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Culture of Manipur: Mesmerizing Tradition, Art, Music, Food and Festivals

Debangan Mishra

  • Culture of Indian States
  • Indian Culture
  • Northeast India


Manipur, fondly called “the bejeweled land”, is truly one of the hidden gems of Northeast India . Relatively unexplored as compared to the other parts of the country, the culture of Manipur is full of treasures. Here, we dive deep into the rich tradition and culture of Manipur that is home to enchanting art forms, delicious food, and vibrant festivals .

The Influence of Korea in Culture of Manipur


The Manipuri culture is a distinct blend of Korean, Central Indian, and Northeast Indian cultures . Owing to the Hallyu or the Korean wave that has spread worldwide, the impact of South Korean way-of-life is prominent among the younger Northeastern and specially Manipuri people. Korean international competitions are also held in the state, with famous K-pop artists visiting them for music tours. Many youngsters can even converse in Korean fluently! Korean movies and dramas are seen regularly, with their CDs being sold on the sidewalk and huge stores alike. Yet, such is the beauty of Indian culture , that while integrating other aspects, the natives have not lost their traditional culture of Manipur.

Food Culture of Manipur


The cuisine of Manipur is as diverse as the state itself. With each of the multitude of tribes of the state having their special dishes, their blend is a wonderful concoction of culture. Popular dishes include those like Eromba Chutney, Yen Thongba (chicken), Nganu Thongba (duck), Oak Thongba (pork), and San Thongba (beef). Prepared in a style of cooking exclusive to the region, their usage of the native spices gives an edge to the brilliant food culture of Manipur. Though daily home-cooked meals include rice and side dishes of vegetables or meat.

Music of Manipur


The indigenous culture often includes various aspects like melodious music skillfully produced from the instruments like Pena which have existed since centuries. The Pena, which is similar to a violin, is made of bamboo and has stood the test of time. Today, it has become one of the most popular Manipuri instruments. Nameirakpam Ibemni Devi is a highly acclaimed musician from the state who was awarded one of the country’s highest civilian awards, the Padma Shri. She was an accelerator of the Khongjom Parba genre of Manipuri classical music.

Dances of Manipur


The dances of Manipur are often so mesmerizing that the viewers are left stunned by its beauty, grace and coordination. The distinct dance form of the state is the Manipuri dance or Jagoi which is recognized as one of India’s major classical dance forms. This dance depicts the love story of Lord Krishna and his lover Radha during the festival of Raas Leela. Unlike the popular Kathakali dance and its similar forms which heavily rely on facial expressions and eye movements, the Manipuri dance is quite lax in this forte. Instead, the dance form is more focused on the graceful movement of the entire body.


Another popular dance form of the state is the Pung Cholom, literally meaning ‘the roar of the drums’ which is a drum dance. It begins on a mild note with a few men or women playing the drum called Pung but quickly escalates to mid-air acrobatics with them whirling about, all while playing the Pung. This dance form, true to its inspiration, resembles martial arts.

Handicrafts of Manipur


The notable art and heritage crafts forms of the land include extensive usage of bamboo and Papier-mâché. The Kauna variety of reed that grows on the river banks is also used for the local handicrafts. The notable art style of the state is the Longpi pottery that originates from the two villages of Longpi. The Tangkhul Naga tribes inhabiting this region are skilled at crafting these beautiful utensils from black serpentinite stone and a special brown clay and then polishing them with the leaves of a native tree. These utensils and pottery have recently seen a rise in international sales and have become a major export.

Art Forms of Manipur


The state’s traditional form of martial arts is the Huyen Langlon, otherwise known as Thang-Ta. This native art has both armed and unarmed versions, with weapons like spears, axes and shields. This martial-art form steers away from violence and instead focuses on self-defence.

Manipur has also produced many skilled film directors, actors and musicians. The prominent names in Manipur’s entertainment industry include Ratan Thiyam, who served as the director of National School of Drama and set up famous theatre groups in his state. Some of the acclaimed dancers of the state are Haobam Ongbi Ngangbi Devi and Kshetrimayum Ongbi Thouranisabi Devi. They both have been awarded the Padma Shri.

Architecture of Manipur


The architecture itself is a form of art in Manipur. The temples of the state like Kiyong, Thellon, and Laishang are the best examples of the state’s architecture. After the arrival of Hinduism, the Vaishnava influence could be seen clearly on the structures. These temples also had the holy horns or Chirongs as a distinguishing feature of the architecture. These Chirongs were also added to the tribal houses as these were believed to make the house complete. On these symbolic Chirongs, various elements relating to daily lives, like birds and flowers are carved.

Festivals of Manipur


Vibrant cultures often lead to numerous festivals to celebrate their diversity. Manipur too has many such events. Many Indian cultures have their unique forms of boat racing. Manipur celebrates its version in the Langbal month of their calendar annually. The lively boat races that take place in the Bijoy Govinda Canal are a spectacle to behold. The northeastern states of our country have a significant Christian population. The religion is a majority in many of these states. In Manipur, the festival takes place with great pomp and joy, and all religious communities celebrate this festival in harmony. Another festival is the Lai Haraoba, literally the festival of Gods, which revers all the lords of Manipuri Mythology simultaneously.

Suggested Read –  Festivals of Manipur, A Mesmerising Visual Treat to Your Eyes

Like most Northeastern states, Manipur is also waiting for its appropriate share of tourism and economic boost. Truly, it is an unexplored gem of our country. Tucked away in the lands of rolling hills and wading rivers, and guarded by the dragon lords, Manipur is waiting to be discovered.

Image credits: The copyright for the images used in this article belong to their respective owners. Best known credits are given under the image. For changing the image credit or to get the image removed from Caleidoscope, please contact us.

Well, where are the culture and identities of tribal people living in the hill areas of Manipur Aren’t they part of manipur ? Why only meitei culture is exposed and why is tribal culture hidden?

We have exclusively covered the tribes of Northeast in this article, please check. https://www.caleidoscope.in/art-culture/northeastern-tribes-of-india

This is a very well written article! As someone who is not familiar with Manipuri culture, this article gave me a very good overview of how beautiful Manipur is. Looking forward to more articles from you!

COOOOOOOOOOOOOOL! I got awesome information from this Article.

The claim of Korean influence on the Meitei culture is wildly inaccurate. They both share in the expansion of the Tai Shan from what is now western China, but had entirely different developments of that culture.

As a Manipuri and a Meitei, I find it misleading that our culture would be appropriated in this way. While it is true that Korean culture is popular among the youngsters of the state because of the global spread of kpop and k-dramas, it is a big leap to claim that Korean culture is a part of Manipuri culture. Also, as stated in one of the comments above, this article is very one dimensional since it focuses only on the Meiteis and omits the various other tribes inhabiting our state. The writers can hopefully rectify these in the future if they do write another article about Manipur.

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The Vibrant Manipuri Culture And Traditions

Here are a few things that entail manipur culture:.

  • Festivals 
  • Traditional Dress
  • Music 
  • Handicrafts 

1. Festivals of Manipur

manipur culture, kut festival

  • In Lai-Haraoba , the festival is celebrated in the name of the deity called Umang Lai which takes place in May.
  • Kut festival is celebrated by the Kuki-Chin-Mizo groups of Manipur. It takes place on 1st November in honour of an abundant harvest.
  • Gang-Ngai is a festival lasting five days. It starts with the omen taking ceremony which is later continued with dance and feast.
  • Cheiraoba is the Manipur New Year which takes place in April. As part of the traditional belief, the villagers climb the nearest hill which helps in bringing good fortune.
  • Yaosang is like the festival of Holi which is considered the most important festival in Manipur. The locals take part in the celebration of merrymaking. Recently, the festive energy is directed towards sporting events to identify talents at the ground zero levels.

manipur culture

3. Traditional Dress

manipur culture, manipur traditional dress

  • Innaphi and Phanek are the most common Manipuri traditional dress for women. The people also weave a special Phanek called Mayek Naibi where the designs on Naibi are horizontal stripes making it look beautiful.
  • The Meitai Females stitch a cloth which called Kanap Phanek which has various designs on it. 'Lai-Phi' and 'Chin-Phi' are other Manipuri traditional costume.
  • The white turban called Pagri is the most common among men.
  • When the kings ruled the land, Khamen Chatpa were gifted to poets and geniuses. Even now, Khamen Chatpa is worn by men belonging to the superior class.
  • Nowadays with modernization taking over traditional culture, the people wear the traditional dress only during festivals or rituals.  

manipur culture, manipuri dance

  • History says that King Khuyoi Tompok was a great lover of art and culture and developed Manipuri Dance in the 2nd century AD. After the introduction of Vaishnavism in the 15th century, the dance form started becoming familiar and very common.
  • The Raas Lila which is the love story of Radha and Krishna is the most famous dance forms and have been dominating the state's performing arts so far. It is performed at the temples of Shree Shree Govindjee in Imphal and also during night time of Basanta Purnima, Kartik Purnima and  Sarada Purnima .
  • Nupa Pala , also known as Kartal Cholom or Cymbal Dance, acts as a prologue to the Raas Lila. It is a group performance by male partners using cymbals and wearing white turbans.
  • Pung Cholom dance is performed when the person dancing is trying to call upon the deity. It is the soul of Manipuri Sankritana music.
  • Maibi dance is performed during the festival of Lai-Haraoba which is an annual ritual festival of Manipur. In this dance, the Maibis dance and describe the whole lifestyle of how Manipuri people live.
  • Khamba Thoibi dance is a duet dance between a man and a woman. It is dedicated to the sylvan deity and is performed by Khamba (hero) and Thoibi (heroine) of the Moirang episode of the past.

manipur culture, folk music of manipur

  • Khullong  Ishei is sung by the Meities in villages when they go to work like fishing. The theme is love where the singer adjusts the lyrics of the song with his own tune.
  • Pena Ishei is another form of song which is accompanied with the help of a musical instrument called Pena. The theme is mostly the love story of Khamba-Thoibi. A Pena looks like a slender bamboo rod which is attached to the round dry shell of gourd of coconut. To produce the musical symphony, the bamboo rod is held in the left hand, and the drum shell is pressed against the chest. The right hand is used for holding the curved iron rod. The strings are rubbed with the curved iron rod.
  • Lai Haraoba Ishei is a song which is known for erotic mysticism, but the inner meaning is covered up by the use of simple words. It is sung during the ceremonial occasion of Lai-Haraoba. Thoubal Chongba, Nat, Gaur Padas, Dhob, Napi Pala, Khubaishei, and Raslila songs are some of the many famous songs sung in that region.

6. Handicrafts

manipur culture, manipur handicrafts

  • Kauna is a kind of reed this is used for making mats and cushions and often exported to countries like the UK, Netherlands, Germany, France, UAE and Switzerland.
  • Pottery is an age-old craft of Manipur which is painted in different and bright colours.
  • Textile Weaving is practised by the women and also known as Laichamphi.

This post was published by Diya Biswas

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Manipur – Culture and Tradition

Manipur – Culture and Tradition

Manipur is a northeastern state in India, with Imphal it’s capital. It is one of the seven sister states of India and literally means “ A Jeweled land ” and is also called “ Switzerland of the East “. This region may not really have the mine of the Gems, but its natural beauty comes only after Kashmir in India, which is not wrong to say the state of the Gems and Jewels.

Manipur is bounded by Nagaland to the north, Mizoram to the south, and Assam to the west, and Myanmar to the east. The seven sister states are Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura which have a unique cultures with ethnic, religious, and linguistic diversity. Apart from being a nature’s gift to India, Manipur is also a melting pot of culture. It is the birthplace of polo, the sport, and the birthplace of Ras Lila, a classical dance form.

Manipur looks like a paradise on this earth. Some people also call Manipur a city of gold. Naturally, Manipur looks very beautiful. The deer of Sangati is found only in Manipur, and the siroi lily flowers are also seen only in the Siroi hill of Manipur this lily flower is found only here in the world. The rare-species Zuco lily is found in the Juco Valley. The state has a rich biodiversity with many rare medicinal plants and many rare orchids and ferns are also found in Manipur.

It is called Kashmir of the East , Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru called Manipur the “ Jewel of India ” and Lord Irwin who visited Manipur in 1931 called it “ Switzerland of the East “. The Japanese army termed it a “ flower of the lofty heights “.

Longbathal Dynasty Ruins

Manipur has a long glorious history even before the beginning of the Cristian era. Manipur is mentioned in Mahabharata where Chitrangada, one of Arjuna’s wives was from the kingdom of Manipura. There are many theories about the origin of the Meitei people , but many anthropologists and historians believe that they are Tibeto-Burmese people who came and settled in the Imphal valley. Many kings ruled Manipur and Manipur’s independence and sovereignty remained until the early 19th century.


The history of the Miti king of Manipur is found in Puyas, which some people also call Puyas Puwaris. It contains information about Ningthau Kangbalon, Chitharol Kumbaba, Ningtharol Lambuba, Poretan Khunathokpa, Panthoibi Khongkul in the Mitti script. This complete information has been written by the Miti king Maharaja and learned people of his time.

The people living on the hill have their own folk tales and stories. Manipur was recognized by different names at different times, such as Tili Koktong, Pori Lam, Sanna Leepak, Mitrabak, and now Manipur.

The name of its capital was Kangla, Yumphal. Today the capital of Manipur is called Imphal. People of this state are called by many names such as Miti, Piri Miti, Maiti, and Miti.

For 3500 years Jean King Maharaja ruled in this state, all of them have been written by Puwaris, Ningthau, Kangbalon, Ningtharol, Lambuba, Chitharol, Kumbaba, Piritan. Till 1955, this kingdom was ruled by more than 108 King Maharaja.

Ningthau Kangba was the first king of Manipur. BCE 1129-BCE 44 when there was no king in the country, there was an uproar on all sides. For the first time in history, Manipur became a slave in the Anglo Manipuri war at Khongjom in 1891. Manipur became a princely state under British rule in 1891, the last of the independent states to be incorporated into British India.

Manipur gained independence on 28 August 1947, but this happiness did not last long because, on 15 October 1949, Manipur was included as a state in India.

Manipur Culture

Manipur is inhabited by people from many cultures such as Kuki, Naga, Pangal, and Mizo, who speak many languages. There is no shortage of arts and culture in this state and this state is surrounded by blue hills on all sides. Every person in this state has a lot of love for art and culture, and there will not be a single girl who does not know how to sing and dance.

Seeing the beautiful handlooms and handicrafts of these people shows how rich their art is. The people here are superstitious but the belief in their religion and practices is quite reliable.

People of all religions and castes live peacefully in this state. People of the Miti tribe are found here in large numbers and they all like to live in the valley as well as Naga, Kuki, and Mizo tribes like to live on the hill.

Suggested Read:  Culture and Tradition of Indian States

People of this state called the Manipuri language as Miti language, The Government of India has also placed this language on the list of important languages ​​of India. Despite being a small state, the population of this state is very large and there are 1.5 million Manipuri-speaking people all over the world.

People from East India and Manipur can speak in the Manipuri language. People living in Bangladesh and Myanmar also speak in Manipuri. People of Manipur also speak well in English and other languages. In this school, children are taught in five languages. Children are taught here in languages ​​like Tangkhul, Kuki, Lushai, Hamar, Patte, and Thadu.

People of Hindu and Christian religions are found here in large numbers, but people of other religions are also found here in large numbers. People here have their own distinct culture and they are also very proud of it.

Manipur Thali

The cuisines of Manipur are traditional cuisine of the Meiteis, an ethnic majority of Manipur. Their staple food is rice with a few side dishes of vegetables and fish. The Manipuris love fish and their favorite fish is Ngri, which is prepared by fermentation.

The main ingredient of Manipuri cuisines is mainly chili and pepper and are devoid of masalas, thus making the food more healthy with no oil. Ngari ( fish ), Iromba, chamfoot, morok, and various indigenous herbs are popular in this state and are used in their foods often. Manipur the dishes are spicy compared to other sister states of the northeast.

The people of Manipur like to maintain a kitchen garden where they grow several flavored herbs and roots that are exclusive to this region including maroi napakpi, awa phadigom, maroi nakuppi, mayang-ton, and toning-khok. The vegetables, mushrooms, and herbs grown in Manipur are rare and unique to the state. Some of their popular dishes include nga-thongba (fish curry), ooti (a typical Manipuri vegetarian dish), chagem pomba (made with fermented soya, mustard leaves) and Chamthong or kangshoi, which is a stew cooked with seasonal vegetables.

Some of the popular dishes are Eromba, Ooti, Nga thongba, Singju, Kangsoi, Chagem pomba, Kelli chana, Chamfut , Bora, and many more, etc.

Suggested Read:  Famous Food Of Indian States


The traditional dress of Manipuri women is Phanek and Innaphi. Phanek is a cloth wrapped around the upper torso or at the waist, like a skirt reaching up to ankles. Phanek is uniquely woven in stripes of black, white, red, or blue running across the fabric, with geometrical motifs on borders. A shawl or dupatta is called Innaphi. The blouse and a chaddar are wrapped around the head and upper part of the body over the blouse.

For Manipur men, the lower garment comprises a cloth tied around the waist called Dhotis with white kurtas. The upper garment is a shawl of red & black stripes worn is draped only in winter. While they also love to wear turban or white pagri as headgear.

Suggested Read:  Traditional Dresses Of Indian States

Dance and Music

Manipuri Dance

Manipuri dance is also known as Jahapar Jagoi dance and is an important dance of India this dance is named after this state. This Ras Leela dance depicts the love of Radha Krishna through dance. Apart from this, there are also dances centered on Goddess Parvati, as opposed to Lord Shiva, Shakti . The god of this state is also danced on Umang Lai during Lai Haraoba . Like other dances in India, the classical dance of Manipur is derived from the Sanskrit text Natya Shastra , but this dance of Manipur has a great influence on the culture of India and Southeast Asia.

Fairs and Festival

Manipur Festival

The festivals symbolize the social, cultural, and religious aspirations of the residents of Manipur and there is hardly any month when there is no festival. Festivals such as Lungaiini Ningol Chachaba, Yaoshang, Gangai, Chumpha, Chiroba, Kang and Hikru Hidongba, Eid ul Fitr, Eid ul Ada and Christmas are celebrated in Manipur. All the festivals here are celebrated at the time of the Hindu calendar. All the festivals celebrated in India are also celebrated in Manipur.

Art and Crafts

Manipur craft

Hand block printing is one of the favorite art and craft in Manipur. The warriors and village chiefs were presented with Khamen Chatpa (handblock-printed towel) by the Maharajah as a token of their courage and management. Manipur is also the largest producer of bamboo crafts. While pottery and textile weaving are also popular and in Manipur, a reed known as kauna is used to make double-weave mats.

Famous People

Zoramthanga: Politician

Lalsangzuali Sailo: Writer

P. S. Chawngthu: Poet

Lalsawma: Social Worker

Laltluangliana Khian: Scholar

Loktak Lake

Tourism can be enjoyed in this small state. The opportunity to see beautiful lakes like Loktak is available here only. This lake is quite beautiful and picturesque. People of all religions live here. But the most important thing is that here people of Hindu and Christian religions are seen in large numbers.

The culture and history of this state are quite old and rich. This kingdom was ruled by many kings Maharaja. It is said that 108 king Maharaja ruled this state. The people of this state are very fond of dance. People of this state are also interested in drama.

Imphal Manipur

Manipur attracts tourists to come again and again due to the healthy climate and beautiful natural landscapes. Main Tourist Centers — Kangla, Sree Shree Govindaji Temple, Khwaramband Bazar (Ima Kithel), War Memorial, Shaheed Minar, Nupi Lane (War of Women) Memorial Complex, Khogampatt Gardens, Azad Hind Sena (Moirang) Monument, Democracy Lake, Keibul Lamjo National Gardens, Vishnu Temple of Vishnupur, Sendra, Morah, Siroi Village, Siroi Hills, Duko Valley, State Museum, Kenya Tourist Accommodation, Khogjom War Park Ark premises, etc.

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Immersing in Tradition: Exploring the Rich Culture of Manipur


Manipur, a state in northeastern India, is a tapestry of vibrant traditions, art and culture and a rich historical legacy. This picturesque region is renowned for its unique blend of ethnic diversity and cultural expression.

One of the most distinctive facets of culture of Manipur is its traditional dance forms, particularly the graceful and ritualistic “Ras Leela” and “Thang Ta.” These dances of Manipur are an integral part of religious and social events, portraying mythological tales and martial arts prowess. Manipur’s diverse ethnic groups, primarily the Meiteis, Nagas, and Kukis, contribute to a colorful mosaic of customs, languages, and festivals. The Meitei people, in particular, celebrate their indigenous festivals like Lai Haraoba and Yaoshang with fervor and joy.

Manipur’s cuisine reflects its local produce, with dishes like Eromba and various chutneys infused with the fiery Bhut Jolokia pepper. The state’s handicrafts, such as intricate handwoven textiles and delicate bamboo work, are esteemed for their craftsmanship.

The region’s cultural vibrancy is bolstered by its historical significance and natural beauty, making Manipur a cultural gem that continues to enchant and captivate visitors from around the world.

Table of Contents

History of Manipur

Manipur , a state in northeastern India, boasts a rich and diverse history, with its origins tracing back to the Bronze Age. The Meitei people were among the early inhabitants, and the region witnessed the rise and fall of several kingdoms and empires, including the flourishing Meitei Kingdom in the 1st century AD.

During the colonial era, Manipur came under British rule in the late 19th century and remained a princely state until India gained independence in 1947. Post-independence, it integrated into the Indian Union.

However, Manipur’s history is marked by ethnic and political conflicts, with numerous indigenous communities seeking greater autonomy and recognition. The Naga insurgency and the Mizo insurgency during the late 20th century had significant repercussions on the region.

In terms of more recent history, records indicate Manipur’s existence around 900 CE. Notable events include a treaty between Raja Jai Singh and the British in 1762 to repel Burmese invaders. Disputed successions led to political turmoil until Chura Chand became the raja in 1891, and British supervision was instituted for eight years, leading to social reforms.

Manipuri governance went through various changes until it joined India in 1947, becoming a union territory and eventually achieving full statehood on January 21, 1972. This historical journey reflects the complex tapestry of Manipur’s past, marked by both ancient traditions and modern political transformations.

Festivals of Manipur

These are few of the many festivals celebrated in Manipur, reflecting the culture of Manipur and the diversity of its communities. Each festival is an opportunity for people to come together, celebrate, and express their cultural identity.

Cheiraoba : The Manipur New Year

Cheiraoba, one of the main culture of Manipur and most renowned festivals, unfolds on the first day of the Sajibu month, typically falling in March or April. This joyous occasion, often referred to as the Spring Festival, is a vibrant celebration of culture and community. Festivities center around donning traditional attire, paying visits to friends and family, exchanging warm greetings and gifts, and relishing local delicacies. Central to Cheiraoba is the veneration of the regional goddess Sanamahi, adding a spiritual dimension to the festivities.

Preparations for the festival encompass sprucing up homes and adorning them with colorful decorations. Culinary delights hold a special place, as locals craft special dishes, initially offered to various deities as a mark of devotion. In April, a unique ritual involves villagers ascending the nearby hilltops, believing that this act will elevate their prospects in life, symbolizing their aspirations to reach greater heights. Cheiraoba is a beautiful tapestry of tradition, faith, and togetherness in Manipur’s cultural mosaic.

Yaoshang Festival

Celebrated for five days commencing from the full moon day of Phalguna (February/March), Yaoshang is the premier festival and culture of Manipur. The Thabal Chongba – a kind of Manipuri fold dance, where boys and girls hold hands together and sing and dance in a circle, is particularly associated with this festival. Boys and girls and even old women collect donations from house to house and the money so collected is spent on parties and feasts. Indeed, Yaoshang to Manipur is what Durga Puja is to Bengal, Diwali in north India and Bihu to Assam.

Lui Ngai Ni

Lui Ngai Ni, the seed-sowing festival, marks the start of the Manipur season and is a prominent celebration among the tribes in Manipur . This festival, rich with enthusiasm, is the centerpiece of Manipur’s festivities. Its name, “Lui-Ngai-Ni,” is a unification of three Naga tribal languages, all signifying the act of sowing seeds. During this festival, tribal communities pay their respects to the deity of crops through joyful dancing and singing. For a distinctive and thrilling experience, consider attending one of the most captivating Manipur festivals in 2022.

Kang (Rath Yatra):

The Kang Festival, a significant celebration for the Hindu community in Manipur, spans ten days in July. It centers around Lord Jagannath’s departure from his temple in a vehicle called the “Kang,” which is pulled by enthusiastic devotees competing for the honor. The festival, also known as Rath Yatra, unfolds at the Govindjee temple in Manipur annually. During this event, idols of Jagannatha, Balarama, and Subhadra are transported in the Kang, which is a local term for a chariot.

Devotees, filled with zeal, pull the Kang and accompany it with the sounds of nahal, gongs, bells, drums, and conch instruments. As a gesture of devotion, they offer barti, which are cotton balls soaked in ghee, to the deities during the yatra. The festivities continue with communal feasts held in the evenings, making this ten-day celebration one of the most significant festivals in Manipur.

Kut Festival:

The autumn festival of the Kuki-Chin-Mizo tribes in Manipur is known by different names, such as Chavang Kut or Khodou, depending on the specific tribe. It’s a joyous occasion for villagers who have worked hard throughout the year and are now blessed with an abundance of food. This festival is celebrated on the 1st of November annually and is one of Manipur’s most prominent and colorful celebrations.

The Kut festival has transformed over time into a symbol of peace, unity, communal bonds, and friendship. Also referred to as Chavang-Kut or Khodou, it serves as a way to express gratitude to the deities for the year’s bountiful harvest through singing, dancing, and revelry.

Gang-Ngai Festival:

Gang Ngai is a vibrant celebration of the customs and traditions of the Kabui Nagas in Manipur, spanning five joyous days. The initial day is dedicated to paying homage to their ancestors. The subsequent four days are filled with indulgent feasts, lively dancing, melodious singing, and a diverse range of programs. The tribe showcases their rich musical heritage through the enchanting sounds of their ethnic instruments. Additionally, this festive occasion includes the heartwarming exchange of gifts among community members.

Chumpha Festival:

The Chumpha Festival, celebrated for seven days in December by the Rangkhul Nagas, is a significant event following the harvest season. The last three days are dedicated to social gatherings and joyful celebrations. This festival is also observed by the Tanghul Nagas, and it’s one of Manipur’s popular festivities, spanning a week after the harvest. During this time, people come together to celebrate the year’s harvest with great enthusiasm, particularly during the final three days.

Sangai Festival:

Sanghai festival; culture of manipur

The Manipur Sangai Festival, an annual event held in November, has been a vibrant culture of Manipur celebrated since its inception in 2010. Over the years, it has become a significant platform for showcasing the indigenous art and culture of Manipur. The festival offers a delightful array of dance, music, and sports performances, as well as exhibitions featuring local handicrafts and cuisine.

As a part of the Manipur Sangai Festival 2022, the Manipur Film Festival is jointly organized by MSFDS and Film Forum Manipur, showcasing movies and short films created by local directors. This endeavor contributes to the promotion of Manipur’s film industry on a national and international scale.

Cuisines of Manipur

The cuisines of Manipur, a northeastern state in India, is diverse and reflects the rich cultural of Manipur and the heritage of the region. Here are some details about Manipuri cuisine:

Rice is a staple food in Manipur. Various varieties of rice are grown in the region, and rice is the primary component of most meals.

Fish and Meat:

Dried fish

Manipuris are fond of fish, and it’s a famous cuisine in Manipur and a key part of their diet. Various fish preparations, both dried and fresh, are popular. Meats like chicken, pork, and mutton are also commonly consumed.


Manipur has a rich tradition of growing a variety of vegetables. Leafy greens, bamboo shoots, lotus stems, and various herbs are widely used.


This is a traditional Manipuri dish made from mashed vegetables (usually potatoes and leafy greens) mixed with fermented fish or shrimp. It has a unique, pungent flavor.


Similar to Iromba, Eromba is a curry made with vegetables and fermented fish. It’s known for its strong, spicy taste.

Rice-based Dishes:

Manipuris have various rice-based dishes such as ‘Chak-hao Kheer,’ a black rice pudding, and ‘Eromba,’ a rice and fish stew.

This is a popular Manipuri salad made from raw vegetables and herbs. It’s a healthy and refreshing dish.

Sticky Rice:

Sticky rice is also a part of Manipuri cuisine, and it’s often used in desserts and snacks.

Manipuri chutneys are famous for their fiery and tangy flavors. The ‘U-morok’ (chili chutney) is a must-try for those who enjoy spicy food.

Fermented Foods:

Fermentation plays a significant role in Manipuri cuisine. Various foods are fermented, such as bamboo shoots, fish, and soybeans, adding unique flavors to the dishes.

Sana Thongba:

This is a popular Manipuri dish made with paneer-like cottage cheese cooked in a savory gravy.

A traditional Manipuri meal often includes a thali, which consists of rice, vegetables, fish or meat preparations, and chutneys.

Tea and Snacks:

Manipuris enjoy tea, and tea stalls are a common sight. Snacks like ‘Singju’ and ‘Pakora’ are often served with tea.

Manipur has its share of sweets, including ‘Chamthong,’ a rice dessert, and ‘Morok Metpa,’ a sweet chili preparation.

Local Brews:

Rice beer is a traditional drink in Manipur and is consumed during festivals and social gatherings.

Manipur’s cuisine is known for its use of local ingredients, unique flavors, and a balance of spicy and tangy tastes. It’s deeply rooted in the culture and traditions of the state, making it a fascinating culinary experience for those who have the opportunity to try it.

Dresses of Manipur

Traditional Manipuri clothing has long been a culture of Manipur and cornerstone of fashion, blending ethnic trends with ease. Prioritizing comfort and functionality, these vibrant outfits maintain a connection to ancient concepts.

Yet, fashion in Manipur has evolved, with the younger generation infusing new elements into these time-honored garments, resulting in a debonair blend of tradition and modernity. Explore Manipuri conventional wears to elevate your fashion game with a touch of uniqueness. Some of the dresses of Manipur are:

Inaphi is an intricate traditional wraparound shawl worn by Manipuri women. It is made from fine cotton fabric and is known for its vibrant colors and unique patterns. Inaphi is an essential part of the Manipuri women’s attire, and it is draped elegantly around the body.

The Phanek is the traditional skirt of Manipur. It is usually woven from cotton and comes in various designs and colors. Women wear the Phanek by wrapping it around their waist and securing it with pleats. It’s a fundamental element of traditional Manipuri attire.

Mayek Naibi:

Mayek Naibi is a traditional blouse worn by Manipuri women. It is often brightly colored and decorated with intricate embroidery or designs. The Mayek Naibi complements the Phanek and Inaphi, completing the ensemble.

Lai Phi and Chin Phi:

Lai Phi and Chin Phi are traditional ornaments worn by Manipuri women. Lai Phi is a circular-shaped pendant with intricate designs, often depicting deities or natural motifs. Chin Phi, on the other hand, is a type of necklace or chain adorned with various pendants, including Lai Phi. These ornaments are considered auspicious and add elegance to the attire.

Dhoti-Pagri/Khamen Chapta:

Manipuri men often wear a traditional outfit that includes a dhoti (a piece of cloth wrapped around the waist) and a Pagri (turban) or Khamen Chapta (headwear) depending on the occasion. The colors and patterns of these garments can vary and hold cultural significance.

The Potloi is a traditional dress worn by Manipuri brides. It’s a special and elaborately designed ensemble, often adorned with intricate embroidery and motifs. The Potloi is a symbol of beauty and grace and is typically worn during weddings and other important ceremonies.

Marriage traditions in Manipur

In Manipuri weddings, the ceremony unfolds at the bride’s residence. The groom, accompanied by his family, is warmly welcomed by three elder female members of the bride’s family, offering betel leaves and betel nuts on banana leaves. The wedding mandap, centered around a tulsi plant, serves as the focal point for rituals.

The groom, alongside the priest, recites prayers while the bride joins later. They unite their hands, bound by thread and blessed by the bride’s mother, who presents a plate with coconut, banana, betel leaf, and betel nut. Elders offer blessings and monetary gifts, and the couple exchanges garlands after the bride’s seven rounds around the groom.


Manipur, a region in North-East India, boasts a rich musical heritage. It encompasses the culture of Manipur and has a diverse range of folk music traditions, including Khullang Eshei, which are rural love songs, the rhythmic Lai Haraoba eshei with veiled references to erotic mysticism, and pena eshei, accompanied by the traditional pena instrument made from bamboo and gourd or coconut shells. The pena holds a special place as a symbol of Manipuri culture.

In addition to folk music, Manipur features classical nat music performed on special occasions, devotional nupi pala songs sung by women, Gaur Padas praising Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and dhob songs accompanied by the jhal, a large cymbal. Manohar Sai songs, dedicated to a notable figure from the 19th century, and Khubakeshei songs that rely solely on clapping are also significant elements of Manipuri music.

Instruments used in Manipur

A type of drum made from wood and animal skin, used in Manipuri classical dance performances.

Another traditional drum made from clay and animal skin, often used in Manipuri music and dance.

A barrel-shaped drum, typically played during Manipuri folk and classical music performances.

A pair of wooden clappers that are commonly used as a percussion instrument in folk and devotional music.

A stringed musical instrument resembling a violin, used in classical Manipuri music.

Bamboo flutes are used in various folk and traditional music forms in Manipur.

A unique, plucked string instrument, often played during traditional Manipuri music and dance.

Leirum Pena:

A single-stringed instrument with a resonator made from a bamboo tube, commonly used in Manipuri folk music.

Trombone and Trumpet:

Western brass instruments are sometimes incorporated into contemporary Manipuri music.

Art,Crafts and Handicrafts

Art and culture

Manipur, a state in northeastern India, has a rich tradition of art, crafts, and handicrafts. Here are some of the notable ones:

Handloom and Textiles:

Manipur is renowned for its handwoven textiles. Moirangphee and Leirum are popular traditional fabrics. The state produces exquisite shawls, sarongs, and phaneks (wraparound skirts) with intricate motifs and designs.

The traditional pottery of Manipur is distinctive for its black pottery, also known as Longpi pottery. These items are made using a unique clay mixture and are known for their durability and aesthetics.

Bamboo and Cane Craft:

Manipur’s artisans are skilled in bamboo and cane craft, creating a wide range of products such as baskets, furniture, mats, and even traditional weapons like the bamboo spear.

Wood Carving:

Skilled woodcarvers in Manipur create intricate designs on furniture, household items, and decorative pieces. Wood carving is an art form passed down through generations.

Manipuri jewelry often features intricate designs and vibrant colors. Silver jewelry, in particular, is popular among the people of Manipur, with unique designs for necklaces, bangles, and earrings.

Manipuri Phulkari:

This is a unique form of embroidery practiced in the state. Women create colorful and intricate floral designs on shawls and textiles using silk threads.

Manipuri artists are known for their traditional and contemporary paintings. The themes often revolve around nature, religious motifs, and daily life in Manipur.

Dolls and Toys:

Doll making is a popular craft in Manipur. Artisans create beautiful, handmade dolls that often reflect the traditional attire and culture of the region.

Thangka Painting:

While Thangka painting is more commonly associated with Tibetan culture, it is also practiced in some parts of Manipur. Thangkas are intricate scroll paintings often depicting Buddhist deities and narratives.

How many cultures are there in Manipur ?

-Manipur is a diverse state in northeastern India with a rich cultural tapestry. It is home to several ethnic communities and cultures. There are over 29 major tribes in Manipur, with the Meiteis being one of the largest groups. Each of these tribes has its own distinct culture, traditions, and languages. So, there are numerous distinct cultures in Manipur, making it a culturally vibrant and diverse state.

What are the cultural symbols of manipur?

Manipur, a northeastern Indian state, has several cultural symbols. The “Ras Lila” dance depicts Krishna’s life, celebrated during festivals. The “Phanek” is a traditional wraparound skirt worn by women. The “Nongma Panba” is a boat race symbolizing unity. The “Sangai” deer is an endangered species and the state’s emblem.

What is the cultural dress of Manipur?

The traditional attire of Manipur varies among its different ethnic communities. However, one of the most well-known traditional dresses in Manipur is the “Phanek” for women. It’s a wraparound skirt often woven with intricate designs. Men typically wear a “Phee,” which is a kind of cloth wrapped around the waist. The clothing can be quite colorful and reflects the cultural diversity of the region. There are also various shawls, headgear, and accessories that are part of the traditional attire in Manipur.

Why is Manipur called the Jewel of India?

Manipur is often referred to as the “Jewel Land” of India due to its unique geography, featuring an oval-shaped valley encircled by nine picturesque hills, resembling a naturally formed jewel.

What is the main festival of Manipur?

The main festival of Manipur is called “Lai Haraoba.” It is a traditional festival that celebrates the Manipuri belief in the indigenous deities and the Meitei culture. Lai Haraoba typically involves various rituals, music, dance, and performances that showcase the rich cultural heritage of Manipur.

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Manipur's culture and heritage for the first timers

Precious Rongmei , TIMESOFINDIA.COM , THINGS TO DO , MANIPUR Created : Jul 25, 2022, 20:00 IST

essay on manipur culture

The state of Manipur is a hot-pot of rich culture and traditions. Surrounded by the states of Nagaland, Mizoram and Assam, one can see influences of these neighbouring states in the culture and traditions of Manipur. When we talk about Manipur’s culture and heritage, we have to talk about the tribes that inhabit the hills and the Meiteis from the plains. Together, they offer a very diverse yet rich cultural experience to the discerning traveller.

Here is the best of Manipur’s heritage to help you plan a beautiful and fun trip.

Manipur is home to the Manipuri Raas Leela, locally known as the Jagoi Raas , one of the eight major classical dance forms in India. Manipuri Raas Leela is based on the Hindu Shastra of Vaishnavism, with its roots in the ancient Natya Shastra . In Manipur, this dance form is passed down generations and is performed as a dance cum play. From the attire to the instruments used to produce the music, everything is traditional.

Sagol Kangjei

Did you know that the modern game of polo actually originated from Manipur? Manipuri polo or Sagol Kangjei was a common man’s game, unlike the modern posh version that is played all over the world. Bare feet, in traditional dhoti and turban, and astride the indigenous Manipuri ponies, this game was how common people in the olden times played in Manipur. The Imphal Polo Ground is actually the oldest working polo ground in the world. Isn’t that just amazing?

Ima Keithel

Translated as Mothers' Market, the Ima Market in the capital city of Imphal is an experience one must have in their lifetime. The market is also known, locally, as Ima Keithel or Nupi Keithel (nupi meaning women in Meitei language). This market, completely run by women is one of the biggest commercial centres in the state and it was established back in the 16th century.

Here, you will find items like traditional handicrafts, handlooms, food items, souvenirs and daily use items; the market’s got them all. Any man trying to set up shop here is not only frowned upon but is in fact against the law! One can’t help but wonder how immensely independent the women must feel.

Dailong Village

Dailong village, located in Tamenglong district, is home to the Rongmei tribes. The village and the surrounding forest area is one of the 12 biodiversity heritage sites in India. Dailong area is a great example of how indigenous communities are dependent on the forest for their sustenance and hence they protect their forest and treat it as sacred. The forests of Dailong are sacred groves and are open to tourists, provided, all visitors respect the law of the land and don’t litter or cause damage to the forest. The village is a biodiversity heritage site because of the presence of the Indian wild orange, locally known as biurengthai , the parent species of all cultivated citrus fruits. Earlier it was believed that the species was limited to Garo Hills in Meghalaya, but it was also discovered in Dailong recently.

Kangla Fort

Kangla Fort or the Palace of Kangla was an important seat of the Meitei rulers. The fort’s history dates back to 1597 - 1652 AD when King Khagemba was the ruler. The entrance to the fort was rebuilt and what’s left of the old Kangla Fort is just ruins and a moat. Some sources also say that the existence of this fort goes back to 33 AD, when the land was ruled by the mythical God-King Nongda Lairen Pakhangba.

Imphal War Cemetery

The Imphal War Cemetery is now home to the memorial stones of 1,600 Commonwealth soldiers of the Second World War. The site is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Most of the soldiers buried here were killed during the Battle of Kohima and Imphal. The war cemetery gets a lot of international visitors who come to pay respect to these fallen soldiers. A lot of them are the family members of these WWII soldiers.

Located in Bishnupur district, this spot right by the side of the road was once a bloody battlefield. The present-day Red Hill or the Maibam Lokpaching was where the British and the Japanese soldiers fought one of the deadliest and bloodiest battles in the history of World War II. Hence, the hill on which the battle was fought got its name. The Battle of Imphal moved all the way to Kohima in Nagaland.

In 1994, Japanese war veterans constructed the India Peace Memorial right next to the Red Hill. The site is a popular tourist attraction where one can still see the old canons that were used during the war. Interestingly, in India, Imphal and Kohima were the only two places where World War II was fought. Many family members of the fallen Japanese soldiers come to visit Red Hill and India Peace Memorial to pay their respects.

Andro 'Doll' Village

If you are curious to know about Manipuri art and cultural heritage, Andro is the place for you. The ride to the quaint Andro village is quite bumpy but once you reach it, you forget the road and instantaneously get immersed in the beauty of the village. The village represents the cultural heritage and creativity of the many Manipuri tribes.

There is a cultural complex in the village, run by the Mutua Museum, Imphal, where one will see traditional huts of all the tribes from Manipur. But, why is it called a doll village? That’s because there is a huge collection of traditional dolls, 29 types in total, that represents the Manipuri tribes. It’s a very unique experience. You will find tribal artefacts like totem poles and other items that were once either daily use or decorative items.

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Manipur's culture and heritage for the first timers

The state of Manipur is a hot-pot of rich culture and traditions. Surrounded by the states of Nagaland, Mizoram and Assam, one can see influences of these neighbouring states in the culture and tradit...

essay on manipur culture

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Manipuri Culture and Literature --a refresher

Profile image of Bijoykumar Tayenjam

2020, FPSJ Review of Arts and Politics

Manipuri Culture and Literature in a nutshell

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Abstract The paper is an attempt to study on how there is deeply rooted connection between Manipuri society and its literature. The thrust of the study is on the translated version of Manipuri poetries of few of the selected writers. The paper will closely focus on how social turmoil and unrest can have a deep impact upon its literature. How their writing try to define gender conscious society of Manipur. The writer cannot run away from the harsh reality that is happening around them. For decades Manipuri people are having unrest social and political rights. The chaotic turbulence is beautifully captured by many writers trying to find solution in their possible ways. The legacy of Manipuri literature is young compared to other existing literature in India. Its literature has its own richness of native sensibility and there are few writers who are acknowledge by other mainstream literary body in India. The paper attempted to unfold the inner most meaning of the writer views through analysis. KEY WORDS: Manipuri literature, Social, Chaotic, Unrest and Feminist issue.

essay on manipur culture

International Education & Research Journal [IERJ]

sanamacha sharma

This paper will attempt to locate four Manipuri poets in English in the ever-changing volatile landscape of history, politics and society of Manipur. Poetry of the four male poets' concerns will be discussed in terms of their involvement in political culture of Manipur from two perspectives relating to contemporary history of Manipur. First one will be about poets' anxieties associated with problems like tensions of democracy, insurgency, drugs, etc. encountered by them in their own backyard, and the second one will dwell on those poets who are living as migrants in other states and their issues like unemployment and nostalgia for their birthplace. In both ways, the changing faces of Manipur, real or imagined, haunt their poetic outputs.

sarajubala devi

Hinduism which emerged in the 18 century is the dominant religion of the Meiteis in the state of Manipur. It was accepted as a state religion in 1714 AD during the reign of king Garibaniwaj. There was a systematic process of induction of the religion in the minds of the earlier Non Hindu people of the state. Brahmins from the neighbhouring states were deployed in the court for every possible rites and rituals performed in state. In almost all the possible localities a Brahmin was deployed with patronization either from the king or by the locality. These Brahmins and other Manipuri scholars compiled and translated various Hindu scriptures written in Sanskrit and in Bengali into Manipuri for easy access by the mass. It is during this period that Sanskrit, Bengali and Hindi elements were systematically incorporated in culture, religion, polity and language. As a result of this 18 th century and early 19 th century Manipuri literature has marked influence of the Sanskrit and Bengali lit...

Oishika Ghosh

Tagore was born into the world of unchanging artistic traditions. And, provided with the extraordinary sophistication of Indian classical dance forms, a traditional impulse was observed among the fellow Indians, as always. But Tagore in spite of being one of those handful of Indians, went ahead of his time and reshaped tradition. There are a very few works on Bengal's connection with Manipuri Dance, particularly of the Tagore family. Studies on the evolution of Manipuri as a classical dance form, and its movement repertoires are scarcely found. Within the rubric of this larger argument, I've attempted to portray the link between Tagore and the cultural revivalism of Manipuri dancers along with a few pertinent instances of Manipuri Diaspora.

Indian Literatures at a Glance

Alexander Nderitu

This research document provides insights into the literatures of the Indian sub-continent and some of the most notable scribes. The specific topics include: an overview of the Indian literary scene, 'book cafes', academia and literary criticism, international impact, famous scribes, journals, languages and translation.

Studies in Media and Communication


IntroductionIndian Literature with its multiplicity of languages and the plurality of cultures dates back to 3000 years ago, comprising Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas and Epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata. India has a strong literary tradition in various Indian regional languages like Sanskrit, Prakrit, Pali, Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Oriya, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam and so on. Indian writers share oral tradition, indigenous experiences and reflect on the history, culture and society in regional languages as well as in English. The first Indian novel in English is Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s Rajmohan’s Wife (1864). Indian Writing in English can be viewed in three phases - Imitative, First and Second poets’ phases. The 20th century marks the matrix of indigenous novels. The novels such as Mulk Raj Anand’s Untouchable (1935), Anita Nair’s Ladies Coupé (2001), and Khuswant Singh’s Memories of Madness: Stories of 1947 (2002) depict social issues, vices and crises (discrimination, i...

Karishma Kadyan

Mrinmoy Pramanick


Taimoor Shahid

The aim of this course is four-fold: one, to inculcate in students an appreciation of the variety of literary traditions in South Asia and their internal diversity, with a focus on North India; two, to introduce students to the fundamental question of literary historiography: why should we study languages and their literature and write their histories; three, to acquaint students with how to read and write the history of languages and literatures of this region with its complex multilingual past; four, to teach students critical engagement with scholarship. Students will read contemporary scholarship on literatures in Sanskrit, Persian, Urdu, Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Sindhi, English, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Tibetan, and others from Literary Cultures in History: Reconstructions from South Asia (2003), the most important collection of essays on fifteen literary cultures from South Asia. Written by a variety of scholars with different methodological foci, this comparative reading will introduce students to the different ways histories of languages and literary cultures can, and need to be written, and to their strengths and weaknesses. In addition to LCH, students will read other crucial interventions in the study of language and literary cultures, such as Farina Mir’s monograph on Punjabi popular literature: The Social Space of Language: Vernacular Culture in British Colonial Punjab (UC Press, 2010). This survey of various literary traditions will be complemented by using the Hindi-Urdu world as a case study for literary historiography. Students will read various recent works on the literary cultures of these worlds, and see where this scholarship is headed: how it goes beyond the questions of “origin” and “difference” between Hindi and Urdu; complicates the use of these blanket labels; and examines the premodern tradition in detail for a better postcolonial understanding of this complex literary world. Some key questions that will guide this comparative study include: What are literary cultures and in what ways do they come into being? What are the relationships of literary cultures to their broader social and political contexts? How do literary cultures constitute and understand themselves, and how do we understand them from the outside? How and why do literary cultures change over time and in what ways do historical transformations like colonialism and nationalism affect them?


Ramlal Agarwal

Dr. Ramlal Agarwal’s essay captures the journey of Indo-English Literature from 1857 when it started to date with great emphasis on the various milestones and important contributors to this journey.

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Its own art-forms and cultural expressions and ramifications distinctly showcase Manipur to the World. Its famous classical dance remains unique in all Manipuri dance forms whether it’s folk, classical or modern and has a different style and gesture of movement.

Love of art and beauty is inherent in the people and it is difficult to find a Manipuri girl who cannot sing or dance. Manipuris are artistic and creative by nature. This has found expression in their handloom and handicraft products, which are world-famous for their designs, ingenuity, colorfulness and usefulness.

Each ethnic group has its own distinct culture and tradition deeply embedded in its dances, music, customary practices and pastimes.

Raas Lila- Dinesh Sharma-min

Raas Leela:- The Raas leela, the epitome of Manipuri classical dance is inter-woven through the celestial and eternal love of Radha and Krishna as has been described in the Hindu scriptures and reveals the sublime and transcendental love of Krishna and Radha and the Gopi’s devotion to the Lord. It is generally performed in an enclosure in front of the temple throughout the night and watched with a deep sense of devotion. Raas performances are seasonal and varied and performed at the temple of Shree Shree Govindajee in Imphal in the nights of Basanta Purnima, Sarada Purnima and Kartik Purnima and at local temples later. As to the composition, the performance is a combination of solo, duet and group dances. This highly stylised form of dance has sublimity, subtlety and grace. The richness of the costumes gives lustre to the beauty of the art.

Nupa Pala:- Nupa Pala which is otherwise known as Kartal Cholom or Cymbal Dance is a characteristic of the Manipuri style of dance and music. The initial movements of this dance are soft and serene , gradually gathering momentum. It is a group performance of male partners, using cymbals and wearing snow white ball-shaped large turbans, who sing and dance to the accompaniment of Mridanga, an ancient classical drum “Pung” as it is called in Manipuri. The Nupa Pala acts as a prologue to the Ras Lila dances, besides an independent performance too, in connection with religious rites.

Pung Cholom:- Pung or Manipuri Mridanga is the soul of Manipuri Sankritana music and Classical Manipuri Dance. It assumes an important ritual character, an indispensable part of all social and devotional ceremonies in Manipur,-the instrument itself becoming an object of veneration. Pung Cholom is performed as an invocatory number preceding the Sankirtana and Ras Lila. It is highly refined classical dance number characterised by the modulation of sound from soft whisper to a thunderous climax.

There is the interplay of intricate rhythms and cross rhythms with varying markings of time from the slow to the quick with graceful and vigorous body movements leading to ecastic heights.

Maibi Dance:- During the festival of Lai-Haraoba which is an annual ritual festival of the Meiteis, the inhabitants of the valley of Manipur, the Maibis, the priestesses considered to be spritural mediums, trace through their dances the whole concept of cosmogony of the Meitei people and describe their way of life. Beginning with the process of creation, they show the construction of houses and various occupations of the people to sustain themselves. It is a kind of re-living of the way of life of the past.

Khamba Thoibi Dance:- Khamba Thoibi dance is a duet of male and female partners, a dance of dedication to the sylvan deity, Thangjing of Moirang , is the depiction of the dance performed by Khamba and Thoibi, the hero and heroine of the Moirang episode of the hoary past. This, with the “Maibi” dance (Priestess dance) , the “Leima Jagoi” etc. form the “Laiharaoba” dance. The “Laiharaoba” dance , in many ways, is the fountainhead of the modern Manipuri dance form.This dance is a part and parcel of Moirang Lai-Haraoba. It is belived that the legendary hero – Khamba and heroin – Thoibi danced together before the Lord Thangjing, a celebrated deity of Moirang, a village in the South-West of Manipur which is known for its rich cultural traditions, for peace and prosperity of the land.

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essay on manipur culture

  • Read about leading Manipuri sport persons and traditional sports of Manipur. What makes Manipuri sports tick? What should Government and India Inc do to help?

The silver medal by Saikhom Mirabai Chanu at Olympics 2021 brought smiles to Indians worldwide. An Indian woman winning a medal is cheered. That she did so on the first day of the Tokyo Olympics was even more important.

Chanu hails from the Indian state of Manipur. Although it is nestled in one corner of India and shares a border with Mynamar, Manipur’s contribution to Indian Sports has been creditable.

In the 1988 Asian Games, the late Dingko Singh reignited the boxing spirit in the country, by winning a gold medal for the country in the Asian Games after a gap of 16 years,” former coach Ibomcha said. Source Indian Express .

essay on manipur culture

Another boxer of repute is Sarita Devi. She has 5 Asian titles under her belt and is also a World Champion. Source  

essay on manipur culture

Mary Kom is a legend who has become immortal because of the movie made on her.

So even though Manipur is a small state, its sporting tradition and rich culture, music and dance have made it known both, within and outside India.

The game of Polo was founded in Manipur. “ The game of Polo (Sagol Kangjei), according to Chaitharol Kumbaba, the royal chronicle of Manipur was introduced by king Kangba, writes Gyanendro Ningombam.” Source

essay on manipur culture

Before going into the reasons for Manipur’s success we must know about local games of Manipur that in a way set the tone for physical fitness and taking to competitive sport.

Boxing is very popular in Manipur. There are private and government run training schools. The 2014 pic that you see is a semi-final match of the North Eastern Games being played at the government run Sports Academy in Imphal.

essay on manipur culture

Manipur has a local version of hockey called Mukna Kangjei which means wrestling and hockey. It is a combination of modern day hockey and rugby. Players have a cloth around their waist. It allows the other team players to hold the cloth and prevent you from moving. Here players pick up the ball. Having got the ball they run towards the goal of the opponent. Catch me if u can. They play hockey too, dribbling with ball but their hockey stick design is different from what is seen in contemporary hockey. Great fun to watch.

essay on manipur culture

Manipur has wrestling too. It is called MUKNA. The game is a must play during the Lai Haraoba festival. See the linkage between culture and sport .

Read “ Mukna, generally regarded as one of the manliest of sports has been perhaps with Manipuris from time immemorial. It is a very popular game of two persons who are trained by the village 'Ojha' (Master), who received the title of 'Jatra' (Unbeaten) person. It has fundamental Rules agreed by all Mukna organizations. Traditionally the game is controlled and organised by Pana Loisang of the Ruler of the state and village organizations.”  Source

A major dream of the young is to win the title of 'Jatra' (Champion) of Mukna of Manipur.  Motivation to win and social recognition start at a young age.

essay on manipur culture

Manipur has a tradition of martial arts too.

Pic you see is of THANG TA, the traditional martial art of Manipur.

essay on manipur culture

All about Indigenous Games of Manipur

Pictures of Indigenous Games of Manipur

Manipur contributed to Indian sports before Dingko Singh and Mary Kom.

In 1970 N. Maipak Singh won the Mr. India contest. Thereafter, he represented India at the Mr World Universe in Paris and finished at number 8 position.

This win motivated talented Manipuri athletes to take part in national games in hockey, football, weightlifting, judo, wrestling, boxing, karate, badminton and cycling.

A short stint as Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports, during rule of Rajiv Gandhi, by Rajkumar Joychandra Singh was a turning point for Manipuri sports. Joychandra established international standard sports training facilities at Imphal that helped produce weightlifting stars like N.Kunjarani Devi, Anita Chanu, Sanamacha Chanu, Monica, Sanjita and Tokyo Olympic silver medalist Mirabai Chanu etc. The facility also produced international boxers namely S. Suresh, Dinko Singh, Suranjan Singh, Kiran followed by MC Mary Kom, L.Sarita Devi and Lady Hockey stars like W.Surajlata Chanu, Ksh.Tingongleima, Sangai Ebenhal Chanu, G.Manorama etc.

One and half decades before Manipur had its Astro turf stadium (1999) came the hockey Olympian P Nilakamol who represented India at Los Angeles Games as Goalkeeper. Next games at Seoul saw Thioba Singh in the national team. Tiken, Chinglensana, Kothajeet also featured in many international matches

The soft and modest Manipuri girls also followed the footsteps of Nilankamol and Thioba. Surajlata and Tingongleima were captain of the Indian Women Hockey team on many occasions.

Archer Laishram Bombayla Devi has the distinction of participation at three consecutive Olympic Games namely 2008 Beijing, 2012 London and 2016 Rio De Janerio. Judoka Ksh. Tombi also represented India at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Manipuris have excelled in football too. Many boys and girls play for Indian clubs. Ng. Bala Devi became the first Indian woman player to play professionally for a European team. Many other Manipuri football players have been honoured, not so famous, by the Football Federation of India.

Maisnam Meiraba Luwang is BWF World number 2 ( Times of India 2020 ) and a product of Prakash Padukone’s Badminton Academy.

Five Manipuris are representing India in the Tokyo. Two hockey players, one judoka, Mary Kom and Chanu.  

What makes Manipuri Sports Tick?

A retired Lt General, who had served in Manipur tweeted, “Manipur has culture of clubs-Who organize sports and cultural events at micro level. These are not affiliated with federations but are Voluntary and community funded. Also, Short height allows greater dynamic balancing and women play a significant role. Eating of sticky rice with high protein helps Manipuri athletes.

These local sports clubs are the biggest supporters of talent. They also fund sportsperson taking part in national championships. The reimbursement from the state government, invariably in part, comes much later.

Manipur has a rich sporting tradition as is noticed by the variety of its indigenous games.

There is a linkage between its culture and sport for e.g. wrestling called Mukna is a must play during the Lai Haraoba festival. This festival has significantly contributed to the sporting culture of Manipur. Also played is traditional hockey.

Manufacturing and service industries are not significant employers in Manipur so for many sports is a way to economic freedom. International medal fetch government awards, even though subsequent to victory for e.g. Mirabai Chanu is to receive a cash award of Rs 1 crore and a job with local police at a senior level. Financial security is important for all.

A Business Standard article of July 29 makes the following points. 

Mirabai Chanu says, “We have an annual festival Umang Lai . There is a sports event in every village on the day of the festival – athletics, football, foot hockey and every kid takes part. That’s where the magic starts.”   

Manipuri society is divided into neighborhoods called Leica . A leikai is a cohesive social organization within neighborhoods. Every leikai will have a sports club, it is just integrated into societal culture says L Somi Roy who has worked in Manipur to revive arts, culture and sports.

What can the government do to help?

The State and Union Government can create more and more sports facilities and provide better employment opportunities to promising sports persons including opportunities for career progression. Participation in national and international events should be encouraged and supported. Cash Awards should be announced before the sporting event.

India Inc can help by investing in sports in Manipur. State government can facilitate the investment because most investors might not be familiar with Manipur.

Every state has something unique that it and the nation must capitalize on, something that comes naturally to the people living in that state. For Manipur it is SPORTS.

Author   is a resident of Manipur . Article pictures by Sanjeev Nayyar.

1. Manipuris have in-born qualities to excel in sports

2. Polo at Sangai Festival, Imphal 2014

3. Women’s role in 20 th century Manipur

4. Manipuris thriving in football

5. All Women Market at Imphal

6. Sangai Festival Manipur

7. The iron women of Manipur who live Olympian dreams    

  • Mirabai Chanu
  • Manipur Culture
  • Tokyo Olympics
  • Dingko Singh
  • Maipak Singh
  • Sarita Devi
  • Boxing India
  • Weightlifting India
  • Reasons success of Manipur in sports
  • Indian Women

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Essay on Manipur: Exploring the Cultural and Natural Wonders of the Jewel of India

essay on manipur

Essay on Manipur in English

Manipur is located in the northeastern part of India and shares its borders with Nagaland, Mizoram, Assam, and the neighboring countries of Myanmar and Bangladesh. It has an area of 22,327 square kilometers and is known for its scenic beauty, lush green hills, and sparkling water bodies.

The state is surrounded by the eastern Himalayan ranges and is characterized by its undulating terrain, with valleys and hills that are separated by deep gorges and steep slopes. The hills are covered with dense forests, and the valleys are dotted with lakes and rivers, making it a nature lover's paradise.

The Barak River, one of the main rivers in Manipur, flows through the state and provides water for irrigation, fishing, and transportation. Other major rivers in Manipur include the Imphal, Iril, and Thoubal. These rivers are important for the agriculture and fishing industries in Manipur.

The climate of Manipur is moderate and pleasant, with the monsoon season lasting from June to September. The state experiences a high degree of rainfall during the monsoon season, which helps in maintaining the natural beauty of the state.

The state is also home to a rich variety of flora and fauna. The forests of Manipur are home to several rare and endangered species of animals, including the brow-antlered deer, the clouded leopard, and the hoolock gibbon. Manipur is also known for its varied birdlife, with over 500 species of birds recorded in the state.

History and Culture of Manipur

Manipur is a state located in the northeastern part of India. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and unique history. The people of Manipur have a distinct identity and their culture is a blend of various ethnic groups.

Manipur has a long and rich history that dates back to the ancient times. The Meitei people, who are the predominant ethnic group of Manipur, have been living in the region for thousands of years. The kingdom of Manipur was established in the 1st century AD by the Meitei king Nongda Lairen Pakhangba. It was during the reign of King Khagemba (1597-1652) that Manipur became a powerful kingdom in the region.

During the colonial period, Manipur came under the British rule in 1891. The state became a part of India in 1949, after the country gained independence from the British. Since then, Manipur has faced several challenges, including insurgency, political instability, and economic underdevelopment.

The culture of Manipur is diverse and vibrant. The state is known for its traditional dance forms, music, and handicrafts. The most famous dance form of Manipur is the Manipuri dance, which is a classical dance form that combines graceful movements with devotional themes. Other popular dance forms include the Pung cholom, the Raslila, and the Thang-ta.

Music is an integral part of the culture of Manipur. The state is known for its folk music and classical music, which is a blend of Indian and Southeast Asian music. The indigenous musical instruments of Manipur include the Pena, the Ongkhal, and the Sarinda.

Also Read:   Essay on Maharashtra: Exploring the Rich Cultural and Historical Heritage of India's Western State

Handicrafts are another important aspect of the culture of Manipur. The state is famous for its hand-woven fabrics, bamboo and cane handicrafts, and pottery. The traditional shawls of Manipur, known as the Phanek, are renowned for their intricate designs and beautiful colors.

Manipur is a state with a rich history and vibrant culture. Despite facing several challenges, the people of Manipur have managed to preserve their unique identity and cultural heritage. The state continues to be a hub of traditional art, music, and handicrafts, which are a testament to the creativity and talent of its people.

Festivals of Manipur

Manipur is known for its colorful and vibrant festivals, which are an integral part of the state's culture. The festivals of Manipur are celebrated with great enthusiasm and involve a lot of music, dance, and feasting. Here are some of the popular festivals of Manipur:

  • Lai Haraoba: This is the biggest and most important festival of Manipur, which is celebrated in honor of the deity, Umang Lai. The festival involves a lot of traditional dances, music, and rituals.
  • Ningol Chakouba: This is a unique festival of Manipur, which is celebrated to strengthen the bond between brothers and sisters. On this day, married women are invited to their natal homes, where they are treated with special food and gifts.
  • Yaoshang: This is a five-day long festival of Manipur, which marks the onset of spring. The festival involves a lot of sports and outdoor activities, along with traditional dances and music.
  • Kang Chingba: This is a harvest festival of Manipur, which is celebrated to thank the gods for a good harvest. The festival involves a lot of feasting, dancing, and singing.
  • Cheiraoba: This is the Manipuri New Year, which is celebrated in the month of April. The festival involves a lot of traditional rituals and customs, along with a lot of food and music.
  • Chumpha: This is a traditional festival of Manipur, which is celebrated to mark the end of the harvest season. The festival involves a lot of music, dance, and feasting.
  • Kut: This is another harvest festival of Manipur, which is celebrated by the Kuki tribe. The festival involves a lot of traditional dances, music, and rituals.

The festivals of Manipur are a reflection of the state's rich cultural heritage. They provide an opportunity for the people of Manipur to come together and celebrate their traditions and customs. These festivals are not only a source of entertainment but also play an important role in promoting social harmony and unity.

Manipuri Cuisine

Manipuri cuisine is known for its unique flavors and variety of ingredients. The cuisine of Manipur is influenced by the state's geography, climate, and cultural heritage. The food of Manipur is generally spicy and uses a lot of fresh herbs and vegetables. Here are some of the popular dishes of Manipuri cuisine:

  • Iromba: This is a traditional dish of Manipur, which is made by mashing boiled vegetables like potatoes, yam, and colocasia with salt, chili, and onions. It is usually served with fish or meat curry.
  • Chak-hao kheer: This is a dessert made with black rice, which is native to Manipur. The rice is boiled in milk and flavored with cardamom, sugar, and raisins.
  • Chamthong: This is a clear soup made with vegetables like cabbage, peas, beans, and potatoes. It is flavored with ginger, garlic, and chili.
  • Ngari: This is a popular fish preparation of Manipur, which is made by fermenting small fish with salt for several days. The fermented fish is then fried or used in curries.
  • Eromba: This is a spicy fish curry, which is made by boiling fish with chili, ginger, garlic, and other spices. The curry is then mixed with mashed boiled vegetables and served with rice.
  • Singju: This is a popular salad of Manipur, which is made with raw vegetables like cabbage, carrot, and cucumber. It is flavored with roasted chickpeas, sesame seeds, and chili.
  • Paknam: This is a popular snack of Manipur, which is made by deep-frying slices of banana or sweet potato. It is usually served with chutney or sauce.

The cuisine of Manipur is a reflection of the state's rich cultural heritage and diverse ingredients. The food of Manipur is generally healthy and flavorful, and the dishes are made with fresh herbs, vegetables, and spices. Manipuri cuisine is a must-try for anyone looking for a unique culinary experience.

Tourism in Manipur

Manipur is a beautiful state located in the northeastern region of India. It is known for its natural beauty, rich culture, and vibrant festivals. Manipur is a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors from all over the world. Here are some of the popular tourist attractions in Manipur:

  • Loktak Lake: This is the largest freshwater lake in northeastern India, located in the heart of Manipur. The lake is known for its floating islands, which are home to rare species of birds and animals.
  • Kangla Fort: This is an ancient fort located in Imphal, the capital city of Manipur. The fort is a popular tourist attraction and is known for its beautiful architecture and historical significance.
  • Imphal War Cemetery: This is a memorial cemetery located in Imphal, which honors the soldiers who died during the Second World War. The cemetery is well-maintained and is a popular tourist spot.
  • Khonghampat Orchidarium: This is a botanical garden located in Imphal, which is home to a variety of orchids and other rare plants. The garden is a popular tourist spot and is known for its natural beauty.
  • Manipur State Museum: This is a museum located in Imphal, which showcases the state's rich cultural heritage. The museum has a collection of rare artifacts, manuscripts, and artworks.
  • Shirui Lily Festival: This is an annual festival held in Ukhrul district of Manipur, which celebrates the blooming of the rare Shirui Lily. The festival involves a lot of cultural events, music, and food.
  • Sangai Festival: This is an annual festival held in Imphal, which celebrates the state's cultural heritage and natural beauty. The festival involves a lot of traditional dances, music, and sports.

Manipur is a beautiful state with a lot of tourist attractions. The state's natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and vibrant festivals make it a popular tourist destination. Manipur is a must-visit for anyone looking for a unique and authentic travel experience.

Short Essay on Manipur in English

Manipur is a northeastern state of India, located at the extreme eastern end of the country, sharing its borders with Nagaland, Mizoram, Assam, and the country of Myanmar. Manipur is known for its beautiful natural landscapes, vibrant culture, and rich history. The state is a treasure trove of ancient myths, folklore, and legends, which are still prevalent in the daily lives of the people living there.

History of Manipur:

The history of Manipur can be traced back to the ancient times of the Mahabharata era. The Manipur valley was ruled by the Meitei dynasty, which dates back to the 1st century CE. The Meitei kings ruled over a vast kingdom that extended from the present-day state of Manipur to parts of Myanmar and Assam. Manipur was also a major center of trade and commerce, with its people trading in silk, cotton, spices, and precious stones.

The British annexed Manipur in 1891 after a long and bloody battle with the Meitei king, which led to the formation of a princely state under British rule. After India's independence in 1947, Manipur was merged with the Indian Union, and the state was granted full statehood in 1972.

Culture and Traditions:

Manipur is known for its rich cultural heritage, which is reflected in its art, music, dance, and festivals. The Manipuri people are deeply religious, and their beliefs are a mix of Hinduism, Buddhism, and traditional animism. The Manipuri dance, known as Ras Lila, is a classical dance form that tells the stories of Lord Krishna and his love for the gopis. The dance is performed in colorful traditional costumes and is accompanied by live music.

The state is also known for its indigenous sports, such as Sagol Kangjei (modern polo), Mukna (wrestling), and Thang-Ta (sword and spear fighting). Manipur has produced some of India's best athletes, including Mary Kom, the Olympic bronze medalist boxer, and Saikhom Mirabai Chanu, the weightlifting world champion.

The economy of Manipur is largely dependent on agriculture and handicrafts. The state is rich in natural resources such as timber, bamboo, and medicinal plants, which form the basis of its handicraft industry. The state is also known for its handloom products, such as shawls and blankets, which are woven in intricate designs and patterns.

In recent years, the state government has focused on developing the state's infrastructure and promoting tourism. The state has several tourist attractions, including the Loktak Lake, which is the largest freshwater lake in northeastern India, and the Keibul Lamjao National Park, which is home to the endangered Manipur brow-antlered deer.


Despite its rich cultural heritage and natural beauty, Manipur faces several challenges, including insurgency, drug trafficking, and a weak economy. The state has been plagued by insurgency for several decades, with various militant groups operating in the region. The insurgency has had a negative impact on the state's economy and has led to a sense of insecurity among its people.

Drug trafficking is also a major problem in the state, with Manipur being a major transit point for drugs coming from Myanmar. The state government has taken several measures to curb drug trafficking, but the problem persists.


Manipur is a beautiful state with a rich cultural heritage and a vibrant history. The state's people are known for their hospitality, and their love for art, music, and dance. However, the state faces several challenges, including insurgency and drug trafficking, which have had a negative impact on its economy and its people's lives.

10 Lines Essay on Manipur in English

Manipur is a state in northeastern India, located near the border with Myanmar. It is known for its rich culture and traditions, as well as its natural beauty. Here are 10 facts about Manipur:

  • Manipur is home to several indigenous communities, including the Meitei, Naga, Kuki, and Pangal.
  • The state has a hilly terrain and is known for its beautiful lakes and waterfalls, including the Loktak Lake and the Barak waterfall.
  • The capital of Manipur is Imphal, which is also the largest city in the state.
  • Manipur is known for its unique handloom and handicraft products, such as shawls, sarees, and bamboo products.
  • The state has a rich history and is known for its ancient kingdoms, including the Manipur Kingdom.
  • Manipuri dance and music are an integral part of the state's culture, with the Ras Lila dance being a popular form of expression.
  • The state is also known for its love for sports, particularly football and boxing.
  • Manipur is the birthplace of several famous personalities, including Mary Kom, the Olympic boxer.
  • The state has a diverse cuisine, with traditional dishes such as Chamthong, Eromba, and Singju being popular.
  • Manipur is also known for its festivals, including the Yaoshang Festival, Ningol Chakouba, and Lai Haraoba, which are celebrated with much enthusiasm by the people of the state.

Q: What is Manipur?

A: Manipur is a state in northeastern India, bordering Myanmar (Burma) to the east. It is known for its rich cultural heritage, natural beauty, and history of insurgency.

Q: What is the essay topic for Manipur?

A: The essay topic for Manipur can vary depending on the purpose of the essay. Some possible topics include the history and culture of Manipur, the impact of insurgency on the state, the natural beauty and tourism potential of Manipur, the political and economic challenges facing the state, and the efforts being made to promote development and peace in the region.

Q: How do I start my essay on Manipur?

A: To start your essay on Manipur, you can begin with a brief introduction to the state, highlighting its location, history, and significance. You can then introduce your specific topic and provide an overview of what you will be discussing in the essay.

Q: What are some key points to cover in an essay on Manipur?

A: Some key points to cover in an essay on Manipur may include its geography and natural resources, its history and cultural heritage, its economy and development challenges, its political situation and issues of conflict and violence, and the initiatives being taken to promote peace, development, and tourism in the state.

Q: What sources can I use for my essay on Manipur?

A: You can use a variety of sources for your essay on Manipur, including books, academic articles, news reports, government reports, and online resources. It is important to use credible sources and to properly cite your references to avoid plagiarism.

Q: What is the length of an essay on Manipur?

A: The length of an essay on Manipur can vary depending on the requirements of the assignment or the purpose of the essay. It can range from a few hundred words to several thousand words.

Q: How can I conclude my essay on Manipur?

A: To conclude your essay on Manipur, you can summarize the main points you have made in the essay and restate your thesis or main argument. You can also offer some final thoughts on the significance of the topic or the implications of your analysis.

Manipur is a unique and fascinating state in India, known for its rich culture, natural beauty, and love for sports and the arts. The state has a diverse population with a rich history and tradition, which is reflected in its food, festivals, and handicrafts. Whether it's exploring the beautiful landscapes or experiencing the vibrant culture and traditions, Manipur has something to offer for everyone.

We hope that you enjoyed reading essay on manipur. If you have any queries or issues, please feel free to connect with us on our  Facebook page . We are always happy to help and would love to hear your feedback. Thank you for taking the time to read our essay, and we look forward to hearing from you soon.

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Manipuri Cuisine: A Unique Experience in Earthy Flavours

The cuisine of Manipur reflects the geographical and socio-cultural peculiarities of this land situated in the North-Eastern part of the Indian subcontinent. The culinary fare of this region reflects the intimate connection of its people with nature. With an exciting ensemble of flavours ranging from plain to piquant, Manipuri food is an absolute delight to the senses.


A traditional spread of Manipuri dishes

To have a closer understanding of the Manipuri cuisine, a brief overview of the geographical and socio-cultural features of the land is important. The state of Manipur is endowed with a stunning diversity of flora and fauna and is one of the recognised biodiversity hotspots of the world. The geographical formation of this region can be divided into two main categories: a central valley and the surrounding hills and mountains. The state has an impressive forest cover of 67% of the total landmass. Aquatic bodies such as lakes and swamps also constitute a prominent feature of this region. The ecological diversity is closely matched by the socio-cultural and ethnic diversity of the population. Apart from the Meiteis who comprise the ethnic majority, there are 29 major tribes that belong to two ethnic denominations called the Naga and the Kuki. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy. Wet rice cultivation is practiced in the valley while the tribes inhabiting the hills mostly engage in jhum cultivation. The socio-cultural, as well as economic lifelines of the region, depend heavily on the exchange of resources between the hills and the plains. The food habits of the region are conditioned by the geographical as well as socio-cultural diversity of the region.


Manipur, a land of exquisite topography


Yongchak or bitter beans

Manipuri Cuisine is marked by abundant use of rice, fish and leafy green vegetables. The region experiences heavy rainfall of over 1000m annually and is thus suitable for the cultivation of several small, long-grained and scented varieties of rice. As the region is dotted with many small and large water-bodies, fish is also found in abundance. Apart from fresh catch, fermented and dried fish called ngari is an important ingredient of a majority of dishes.


Thangjing or foxnut


Ngari (fermented and dried fish)

Manipuri food is also marked by the use of a variety of vegetables, many of which are exclusive to this region and not known in the rest of the Indian subcontinent. The vegetables are mostly grown at home by the householders or are procured from the local market. As a result of this, the dishes of the Manipuri cuisine are predominantly seasonal and organic. The common vegetables that are indigenous to this region include pumpkins, various kinds of beans, gourds, brinjals, etc. Vegetables that were introduced under the rule of the British include potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, radishes, peas, carrots and turnips. Apart from this, vegetables that are unique and native to this region are yendem (a kind of taro), kolamni (water spinach), thangjing (foxnut), koukhaa (katniss), yongchak (a variety of bitter beans), sougri (roselle leaves) and so on.


Umorok or king chilli

A typical Manipuri meal consists of the following dishes: steamed rice (which is the staple) is accompanied by kangsoi (a vegetable stew with ngari), ooti (a thick curry made of green/yellow peas, chives and beans), nga Atoiba thongba (a curry made of fish), kanghou (stir-fried vegetables), eromba (a mash of boiled vegetables, ngari and chilli), singju (a salad made of seasonal vegetables) and morok metpa (a paste of roasted chilies, ngari and garlic). An exotic dessert called chakhao (a pudding made of black rice) completes the meal. The most popular methods of cooking involve boiling and steaming. Oil is used only sparingly. Yet, fried items such as various kinds of boras or fritters also exist. Ingredients such as bay leaf, onion, ginger and garlic are added for enhancing flavour and aroma. A major spice which features in most dishes is the umorok or king chilli.


A significant feature of the Manipuri cuisine is the use of aromatic herbs and roots. These ingredients lend the Manipuri cuisine its unique character and also endow the food with nutritional and medicinal values. The use of these herbs and roots by the communities inhabiting this region, reflect their traditional knowledge of the cycle of nature and the wild flora and fauna. For example, various exotic species of wild mushrooms form a part of the Manipuri cuisine. The knowledge of identifying the edible from the non-edible varieties is crucial. Such knowledge is handed down from one generation to another and is an integral part of their social and cultural life. It stands testimony to the intimate connection of these communities with nature and their sustainable use of natural resources.


Manipuri women selling fish at Ima Keithel or Mother’s market

Another defining feature of Manipuri cuisine is the use of various forms of fermented food items. Apart from fish, the repertoire of fermented foods also includes tender bamboo shoots called soibum and a dish made of fermented soya beans called hawaijar . As discussed earlier, in Manipur, a predominant area of the landmass is covered under forests, hills and mountains and water bodies. Thus, the area of land under cultivation is low. Traditionally, the fermentation of certain food products ensured that they were available throughout the year. The process of fermentation also adds to the nutritional and pharmacological qualities of certain food items, apart from enhancing their flavour. Sometimes, elaborate techniques are used for fermentation. For example, ganang tamdui is a traditional preparation in which mustard leaves are dried in the sun and then kept in bamboo culms till they release a pungent odour. The leaves are then pressed to extract their juice which is then boiled. This liquid is preserved and used in the preparation of a soup called tam . The dishes prepared by using fermented products are usually characterised by delightfully piquant flavours and aromas and might require some getting used to for people who have not yet been initiated into this unique cuisine.


Manipuri women serving food at Ima Keithel


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Essay on Manipur Tourism

Students are often asked to write an essay on Manipur Tourism in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on Manipur Tourism


Manipur, a state in Northeast India, is a hidden gem. It is known as the ‘Switzerland of India’ for its natural beauty.


The capital, Imphal, has historical sites like Kangla Palace. Loktak Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Northeast, is famous for its floating islands.

Manipur is rich in culture. It is the birthplace of Ras Lila dance and Manipuri cuisine is unique and tasty.

Adventure Tourism

Manipur offers adventure sports like trekking, rafting and angling. The Sirohi National Park is a paradise for nature lovers.

Manipur’s beauty and culture make it a must-visit destination.

250 Words Essay on Manipur Tourism

Manipur, a jewel of India, is a captivating destination located in the northeastern part of the country. It is a place of exquisite beauty, rich culture, and vibrant traditions, making it an ideal spot for tourism.

Natural Beauty

Manipur is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty. The verdant landscapes, lush valleys, and crystal-clear rivers are a sight to behold. The Loktak Lake, the largest freshwater lake in the Northeast, is an ecological marvel and home to the unique floating Keibul Lamjao National Park.

Cultural Heritage

The cultural heritage of Manipur is another facet that attracts tourists. The state is renowned for its classical dance form, Manipuri, recognized globally for its grace and subtlety. The state’s festivals, like Yaoshang, Kang, and Ningol Chakouba, offer a glimpse into the rich cultural tapestry of the region.

For adventure enthusiasts, Manipur offers numerous opportunities. From trekking in the hilly terrains to boating in Loktak Lake, the state is a paradise for thrill-seekers. The Siroy Lily, found exclusively in the Siroy Hills, adds a unique charm to the trekking expeditions.

In conclusion, Manipur’s tourism is a blend of natural splendor, cultural richness, and thrilling adventures. It is a destination that promises an enriching and unforgettable experience for every traveler. The ongoing efforts by the government to promote tourism are set to further elevate Manipur’s position on the global tourism map.

500 Words Essay on Manipur Tourism

Introduction to manipur tourism.

Located in the northeastern part of India, Manipur is a captivating state known for its natural beauty, cultural richness, and historical significance. Often termed as the ‘Jewel of India’, Manipur offers a diverse range of attractions for tourists, including scenic landscapes, historical sites, and vibrant cultural experiences.

The Natural Wonders of Manipur

Manipur is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty. Loktak Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Northeast India, is one such marvel. It is famous for its floating islands or ‘phumdis’ and is home to the only floating national park in the world, the Keibul Lamjao National Park. This park is the last natural habitat of the endangered Sangai deer, adding a unique ecological dimension to Manipur’s tourism.

The state also boasts a diverse range of flora and fauna, with numerous wildlife sanctuaries and parks. The Shirui Lily, a unique species found only on Shirui Hill, Ukhrul, is another natural attraction that draws botany enthusiasts from around the world.

Historical and Cultural Significance

Manipur’s rich history is reflected in its numerous historical sites. The Kangla Fort, once the royal seat of the Manipuri kings, stands as a symbol of the state’s historical glory. The INA Memorial Complex, where Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army first hoisted the Indian flag, is another significant historical site.

The state’s cultural diversity is showcased through its traditional dances, arts, and festivals. Manipuri dance, a classical dance form recognized by UNESCO, is a beautiful representation of the state’s cultural ethos. Festivals like Yaoshang, Ningol Chakouba, and Kut celebrate the state’s diverse ethnic communities and traditions, providing a vibrant cultural experience for tourists.

For adventure enthusiasts, Manipur offers a range of activities. Trekking trails in the hilly terrains, particularly in the Dzuko Valley, provide breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes. The state also offers opportunities for water sports in its various lakes and rivers.

Manipur’s Cuisine

Manipur’s cuisine, a blend of tribal and traditional flavours, is a gastronomic delight for food lovers. Dishes like Eromba, a fermented fish dish, and Chak-Hao Kheer, a black rice pudding, offer unique culinary experiences.

Manipur’s tourism sector, with its diverse offerings, has immense potential. However, it requires effective promotion and sustainable practices to ensure that the state’s natural beauty and cultural heritage are preserved while providing economic benefits. As more people discover the charms of this northeastern state, Manipur is poised to become a prominent destination on India’s tourism map.

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  • Main content

I moved to China expecting to teach for just 2 years. I've been here for nearly a decade and have no plans to move home.

  • Aidan Fairhall was a public school teacher in England.
  • He moved to China nine years ago.
  • Now, he says he feels reverse culture shock when back home in England.

Insider Today

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Aidan Fairhall, a 34-year-old international school chemistry teacher based in Shanghai. This essay has been edited for length and clarity. Business Insider verified his rent and employment.

After four years teaching in public schools in England, I was at a breaking point and on the verge of leaving the profession.

The workload was intense, I was struggling to make ends meet and going into debt, and at one point was even sharing an apartment with 10 others.

That's when I decided it might be fun to go teach abroad and see the world. At first, I only planned to be away for two years as a little adventure, but after teaching in China for close to a decade, I don't intend to go back to England unless I have to.

It took about a month of being in Guangzhou to realize I was never moving back to England

In England, I was teaching in schools in pretty deprived areas — where around 70% of students were on free meals as they were under the poverty line. The workload was intense, preparing eight curricula weekly for students with lots of behavioral needs. It felt like crowd control and constantly redirecting this torrent of energy that's always blasting at you.

In Guangzhou, the job was so wildly different.

I taught at an international school, where the kids were well-behaved. I had only three different types of classes to prepare for. And class sizes were 10 to 20 students, much less than the over 30 you'd typically have in England.

All of this meant rediscovering what work-life balance was. When I was in England, I'd mostly just travel back to my hometown for the holidays. In Guangzhou, I was spending weekends in Hong Kong — sometimes renting out junk boats for 40-person parties — and flying out to Taiwan, India, and Southeast Asia for vacations.

The move also meant going from living in a room in a shared apartment to having a place to myself.

Today, two international schools later, I live in a one-bedroom apartment in Shanghai's French Concession district, which I pay around 19,000 yuan in monthly rent for — or around $2,600. Most of this is covered by my school's housing allowance.

I'm not allowed to say how much I make in my current position, but my school publicly advertises roles with a base annual pay (excluding housing allowance and other benefits) between $60,000 and $70,000 for those with a bachelor's degree and between five to 10 years of experience teaching.

Being willing to say yes to everything helped me adapt to China

After everything I'd seen in the media about Asian cities, I imagined Guangzhou was going be like the claustrophobic grandeur of Hong Kong where you could look up and see only a square of the sky.

But Guangzhou was made on a different scale, like a city made for giants. You could have 15 people walking abreast. I didn't expect how lush it was, like a city growing out of a jungle.

On that first day in Guangzhou, another foreign teacher and I ventured out to a Chinese hotpot restaurant despite knowing zero Chinese. We didn't have a VPN, so we couldn't connect to anything. And there weren't image translators like Google Translate at the time, so we had to gesture and point for the waiters.

Everyone around us was giggling as things were being brought out, and we went back to that same restaurant every week after that. It was fantastic.

What struck me about expats who don't like living in China is that many have this idea that they can impose their pre-existing norms on life here. And they couldn't get past how people didn't do things the same way as in their home countries.

Take food, for example. I've fallen in love with chicken feet, and I've traded in my typical Sunday roast for dim sum.

Of course, there were stumbling blocks. There's the uncertain quality of food in some places. It took some time to get used to doing so much digitally, and to the prevalence of online scams. I didn't use Taobao, an eCommerce site, for years because I just didn't understand which buttons to press.

Now, I feel reverse culture shock when I'm back home

The schools I've worked for pay for return flights back to teachers' home countries, which means I get to go back to England every summer.

Every time I go back, so much of England feels archaic to me. From how unclean and inefficient London's tube is compared to the metro systems in China; to how ridiculous it is to have your trousers weighed down by pockets full of change when we mostly go cashless in China.

After a decade in China, I feel like part of the furniture here — whereas back home, I now feel out of place.

When I first moved away, I had to say goodbye to a lot of friends. And despite promising them that I would definitely be back before I turned 30, so I could be there for their kids and weddings, I can't quite see myself giving up my life here anytime soon.

essay on manipur culture

Watch: How 'leftover' women in China are changing its culture

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A collage of headlines and magazine articles.

Opinion David Brooks

The Sidney Awards

Credit... Brea Souders for The New York Times

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David Brooks

By David Brooks

Opinion Columnist

  • Dec. 28, 2023

If you want to help people, there are many fine causes you can donate to. If you want to change the world, support a small magazine. It’s hard to imagine the Progressive era or the New Deal without a small magazine, The New Republic. There probably would have been no Reagan revolution without another small magazine, National Review. The Partisan Review had a circulation of roughly 5,000 to 7,000 at its peak but set the tone for America’s postwar intellectual life.

Small magazines cohere a community of thinkers. They develop a body of ideas. They plant flags and inspire social movements. They create a persona that serves as an aspirational ideal for people, a way to live their lives. Small magazines can alter history in a way big media outlets just can’t. So with the 20th annual Sidney Awards, which I named for the philosopher, public intellectual and expert polemicist Sidney Hook and are dedicated to celebrating some of the best long-form essays, this year we’ll pay special attention to these vanguard publications.

I generally don’t agree with the arguments of those on the populist right, but I have to admit there’s a lot of intellectual energy there these days. (The Sidneys go to essays that challenge readers, as well as to those that affirm.) With that, the first Sidney goes to Christopher Caldwell for his essay “ The Fateful Nineties ” in First Things. Most people see the 1990s as a golden moment for America — we’d won the Cold War, we enjoyed solid economic growth, the federal government sometimes ran surpluses, crime rates fell, tech took off.

Caldwell, on the other hand, describes the decade as one in which sensible people fell for a series of self-destructive illusions: Globalization means nation-states don’t matter. Cyberspace means the material world is less important. Capitalism can run on its own without a countervailing system of moral values. Elite technocrats can manage the world better than regular people. The world will be a better place if we cancel people for their linguistic infractions.

As Caldwell sums it up: “America’s discovery of world dominance might turn out in the 21st century to be what Spain’s discovery of gold had been in the 16th — a source of destabilization and decline disguised as a windfall.”

Some of this year’s Sidney Award winners are kind of cerebral, but John Jeremiah Sullivan’s essay “ Man Called Fran, ” from Harper’s, is pure candy. Once you start reading it, you will not be able to stop. It starts when the author was bothered by a vague, unpleasant smell spreading through part of his house. He called plumber after plumber, but nobody could figure it out. Then one plumber said that while his firm had “good plumbers,” sometimes you need a crew with “crackhead power.” He added, “A crackhead will just throw himself at a wall, even if it’s totally pointless.” Sullivan found two plumbers with this kind of power, one named Fran, and what happened next is remarkable, touching and deep.

The New Atlantis is a fantastic magazine that helps us understand the burdens and blessings of modern science and technology — the social effects of everything from Covid to artificial intelligence and lab-grown meat. In “ Rational Magic ,” Tara Isabella Burton profiles a group of tech-adjacent thinkers who have become disillusioned with the alienating emptiness of the world Silicon Valley is creating: its dry rationalism, its emphasis on the technological over the humanistic. Many such people, she writes, are searching for some sort of spirituality. She follows them into the world of occultism, mushrooms and ecstatic dance classes. Burton is picking up on a broader trend I’ve also been noticing recently. New forms of religion and spirituality are popping up where you least expect them — among the techies, among those on the hard, progressive left.

The Hedgehog Review is another favorite magazine of mine. Each issue offers deep and substantive takes on our culture. In “ The Great Malformation ,” Talbot Brewer observes that parenthood comes with “an ironclad obligation to raise one’s children as best one can.” But these days, parents have surrendered child rearing to the platforms that dominate the attention industry — TikTok, Facebook, Instagram and so on: “The work of cultural transmission is increasingly being conducted in such a way as to maximize the earnings of those who oversee it.”

He continues: “We would be astonished to discover a human community that did not attempt to pass along to its children a form of life that had won the affirmation of its elders. We would be utterly flabbergasted to discover a community that went to great lengths to pass along a form of life that its elders regarded as seriously deficient or mistaken. Yet we have slipped unawares into precisely this bizarre arrangement.” In most societies, the economy takes place in a historically rooted cultural setting. But in our world, he argues, the corporations own and determine the culture, shaping our preferences and forming, or not forming, our conception of the good.

I confess that until this year, I was unfamiliar with Places Journal, which offers scholarly but accessible articles on architecture, the landscape and the built environment. This year Shannon Mattern contributed “ Fountain Society ,” a fascinating history of water fountains. I had not known that Aaron Burr started a water company in the 18th century, nominally to provide New Yorkers with clean water but really so he could raise money to go into banking, creating what would become Chase Bank.

Societies reveal their values by how they treat water. Mattern writes: “Clearly the drinking fountain and the water bottle are more than two different options for quenching thirst. They’re embodiments of two different systems, two different sociopolitical narratives, about the provision of water. The fountain is an exemplar of public infrastructure and collective responsibility. The ubiquitous bottle of branded water is an accouterment of consumer culture — a small but telling instance of the triumphant market mentality that has in the past half-century remade so many aspects of our lives.”

It’s rare that an essay jolts my convictions on some major topic. But that happened with one by Subrena E. Smith and David Livingstone Smith, called “ The Trouble With Race and Its Many Shades of Deceit ,” in New Lines magazine. The Smiths are, as they put it, a so-called mixed-race couple. She has brown skin; his is beige. They support the aims of diversity, equity and inclusion programs but argue that there is a fatal contradiction in many antiracism programs. “Although the purpose of anti-racist training is to vanquish racism, most of these initiatives are simultaneously committed to upholding and celebrating race,” they write. “In the real world, can we have race without racism coming along for the ride? Trying to extinguish racism while shoring up race is like trying to put out a fire by pouring gasoline on it.”

I’ve heard this argument — that we should seek to get rid of the whole concept of race — before and dismissed it. I did so because too many people I know have formed their identity around racial solidarity; it’s a source of meaning and strength in their lives. The Smiths argue that this is a mistake because race is a myth: “The scientific study of human variation shows that race is not meaningfully understood as a biological grouping, and there are no such things as racial essences. There is now near consensus among scholars that race is an ideological construction rather than a biological fact. Race was fashioned for nothing that was good. History has shown us how groups of people ‘racialize’ other groups of people to justify their exploitation, oppression and annihilation.”

One of the joys of small magazines is that they discover writers. Comment is a magazine that brings theological thinking to bear on public issues (and you should know that my wife is the editor in chief). This year, Comment published a powerful essay by Skyler Adleta, who was homeless in high school and is now a construction project manager in Ohio. His voice has power and depth. In “ The Providence of Poverty ” he writes about his father’s alcoholism: “I’ve only really known a shade of my dad, like glimpsing at dead, fallen leaves to study the intricacies of a large, old tree. My dad is an addict. Addiction is like rot, a slow decay imperceptible at first, that works its way from the inside out. When you at last survey the great damage, it may no longer be the person you are surveying, but the remnants of the attack itself. I despise addiction beyond any other ailment because of this.”

The essay traces his relationship with his dad and his decision not to forsake him. He concludes: “So I will continue to climb this mountain with my dad. Whether he likes it, or even realizes it, or not. And when his knees buckle and he falls to his face, he will at the very least not be alone. The question will be whether he allows his son, reinforced by our Lord, to carry him the rest of the way. If he does accept it, it will be a glorious occasion. The great old tree will be restored. The orphan will, at last, be face to face with his father.” Reading the essay, I felt myself in the presence of a bright new talent.

This year I’ve organized the Sidneys around small magazines. But I should conclude by adding that the big magazines, like The New Yorker and The Atlantic (where I also write), also had fantastic years and remain essential reading for any cultivated person. For example, if some year I’m feeling lazy when it comes time to compile the Sidneys, I could save a lot of effort if I just wrote down a single sentence: “Read what Caitlin Flanagan and Jennifer Senior wrote over the past 12 months.” These two writers, who work at The Atlantic, consistently produce masterpieces, as they did this year. Flanagan had a marvelously entertaining piece on the timeshare industry, “ The Timeshare Comes for Us All .” Senior had a moving and powerful piece called “ The Ones We Sent Away, ” on all those people who have been institutionalized and in some cases forgotten because they suffered from brain damage, extreme autism or some other mental disability.

As always, I’m grateful to two phenomenal aggregators who help me find Sidney nominees: Robert Cottrell, who founded The Browser, which gathers the best essays in English from around the world, and Conor Friedersdorf, who publishes the Best of Journalism newsletter, which lands in my inbox every Sunday morning and who catches me up on all the stuff I should have read the previous week.

This year’s nominees convince me once again that we’re living in a golden age of nonfiction.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips . And here’s our email: [email protected] .

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook , Instagram , TikTok , X and Threads .

David Brooks has been a columnist with The Times since 2003. He is the author, most recently,  of “How to Know a Person: The Art of Seeing Others Deeply and Being Deeply Seen.” @ nytdavidbrooks


Imphal Review of Arts and Politics

IRAP Masthead

  • March 15, 2020
  • Arts , Editors' Choice , Literature

Manipuri Culture and Literature – A Refresher

Tayenjam bijoykumar singh.

Culture is defined as ‘the way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time’. So, there is an element of time associated with culture. It is also explained as the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, defined by everything from language, literature, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts. In the dynamics of culture, change and innovation have important places as continuity and tradition.

For better understanding of Manipuri culture one has to look at their dance, music, games, etc. and also literature. They call themselves ‘Meities’ or ‘Meeteis’. Here the terms ‘Meitei’ and ‘Manipuri’ are used interchangeably.

Majority of the Meities live in Manipur, which is also the home of diverse ethnic groups. The Meiteis, the largest group, are said to be the descendants of a break-away group of the Shang Dynasty of Central China and the Lei-hou tribe of Koubru hill situated in the north-west of Manipur valley. They established their principality in the Koubru hill ranges (circa 1445 BC).

Manipur valley lies in the centre encircled by ranges of high hills. In the prehistoric times the valley was nothing but a vast lake. It started drying up and the Meiteis descended to the valley. Over the centuries, many groups of people belonging to different races migrated from all directions and settled in the valley. They assimilated into the local population, enriching its culture and traditions. Frequent intermarriage with different tribes in the surrounding hills also enriched the culture and traditions of the Meiteis. Manipuri or Meitei language belongs to the Tibeto-Burman sub family of the Sino-Tibetan family of languages. It has proven to be an integrating factor among all ethnic groups in Manipur who use it to communicate among themselves.

A hypothetical theory advocated by Atombapu Sharma in the early thirties postulates a link between Manipur and the great epic, the Mahabharata. Even scholars like E. Nilakanta acknowledged it. As in this theory the borderline between history and myth is not so sharp in many other ancient civilizations. Present day scholars are of the opinion that the Manipur of the Mahabharata is not the present Manipur.

Manipur’s connection with Hinduism started when Hindu kingdoms in mainland India were overrun by Muslim invaders and people, especially the Brahmins, started running off to safer places to escape the onslaught. In 1204 Bakhtiar Khilji led the Muslim conquest of Bengal. They occupied Bengal from 1206 to 1757, a period of around five hundred fifty years. They also occupied parts Assam for ten years from 1660 to 1670. Starting from the 15the century A.D. waves after waves of the Brahmins entered Manipur. The escapees found Manipur valley a safe haven. They assimilated into the local population. Bengal Vaishnavism came to Manipur to be reborn, enriched and energised.

The cultural heritage of the Manipuris has two layers viz, Pre-Hindu phase and the Hindu phase starting from the 15th century A.D.

Pre-Hindu faith and culture of the Meities is centred around veneration of Lai. The term Lai has many connotations. It stands for god, goddess, male or female deity, divinity, supernatural being — in short it means any entity which cannot be explained by human perceptions. Sanamahi is the household Lai and worshipped in every family. Meitei religion is also known as ‘Sanamahi religion’ after ‘Sanamahi’.

A few sacred groves zealously protected and preserved by the people living in the surrounding areas are the only forests left in the valley. It is believed that many Pre-Hindu deities reside in the groves. Lai Haraoba or pleasing of deities, ceremonial rites to appease deities, is an important festival of Manipur. For the followers of Sanamahi religion, Lai Haraoba is their main festival. Whereas important festivals of the Hindu Meiteis are Yaoshang or Holi, Kang Chingba or RathYatra, JhoolonYatra, Krishna Jarma or Janmashtami and Durga Puja.

Creation myths, beliefs and superstitions, the concept of birth and rebirth according the Meitei philosophy are ingrained in the rituals of Lai Haraoba. Main religious functionaries of the traditional Meitei religion are Maiba (male) and Maibi (female). Maibi of Meitei religion is a priestess as well as a dancer, a songstress, a medium through whom Lai delivers oracles and an occultist sans pejorative overtones.

Though there is extensive written literature in ancient Meitei script that goes back to more than one thousand years, the essential core of the sacred lore associated with Lai Haraoba has been passed down through mouth from Maibi to Maibi. The oral texts contain a number of different literary genres, including songs for prosperity, dancing songs, riddles, erotic verses and love lyrics. Under the umbrella of Lai Haraoba dance come Khamba-Thoibi Jagoi or dance, Maibi Jagoi, Leima Jagoi, etc., which are the basics of modern and classical Manipuri dance.

Lai Haraoba has been preserved in its most pristine form – its dance form and oral literary and poetic traditions are still intact even long after the Meities have become Hindus. Hinduism could not totally subvert the pre-Hindu Meitei religion. Even the kings who patronised Hinduism continued to worship pre-Hindu gods and goddesses. Meitei religion reached a modus vivendi with Hinduism.

About Sanamahi religion Pradip Phanjoubam says, “But Sanamahi religion, it must be said, has in the present times become somewhat an extension of Hinduism, although their followers deny this. Religious ceremonies and rituals of Sanamahi today closely mirror Hindu ones. The fact that Hinduism is not a strictly structured religion has helped.”

Despite the fact that Lai Haraoba is a pre-Hindu festival, the Hindu Meities still celebrate it with all the traditional pomp and fanfare. Lais are continued to be worshipped by the Hindu Meities. Sanamahi is still worshipped in every Meitei household irrespective of the faith they follow. Lai Haraoba reflects the culture of the Meites in totality, irrespective of caste and creed, and the faiths they follow.

Manipur is synonymous with dance and sports to the world outside. On the next day of Lairoi, the conclusion of the strict liturgical prayers and rituals of Lai-haroba, many traditional games and sports like Lamjel (foot race), Thouri Chingbi (tug of war), Mukna (wrestling), Khong Kangjei (foot hockey), Yubi Lakpi (snatching of coconut), Sagol Kangjei (polo), etc. are played.

Mukna is the traditional style of wrestling, which requires fascinating skill and body manoeuvres. The one who fells or throws down his opponent on his back or make him touch the ground by one of his hands or knees is declared the winner.

Khong Kangjei meaning ‘foot hockey’ is a game played with seven players on each side. Each player is equipped with a bamboo stick measuring around 4 feet in length, shaped like a modern hockey stick. The ball is made of seasoned bamboo root. There is no goal post. The ball has to cross the boundary line of the opposite side to score. The peculiarity of this game is that the players can kick the ball and carry it in his hand toward the goal line. However, for scoring the ball has to be hit by the bamboo stick. The player carrying the ball has to defend himself. The players in the two teams can lock themselves in wrestling bouts in pairs to gain control of the ball. So another name given to the game is Mukna-Kangjei, meaning wrestling-cum-hockey. It requires great bodily skill for the players to free themselves and carry the ball to the goal line. The players have to have good speed, stamina, strength, agility and skill of Mukna in order to win.

Yubi Lakpi meaning ‘snatching of coconut’ is a traditional game similar to Rugby. An oiled coconut is used in place of the ball.  For scoring a player approaches the goal from the front with the oiled coconut in his possession. He passes the goal line and offers the coconut to the judges who sit beyond the goal line.

Sagol Kangjei is the traditional game of the Meiteis which gave birth to the modern game of polo. The game is played with seven players on each side mounted on ponies. Each player holds a long cane stick with a narrow angled wooden head for hitting the ball made of seasoned bamboo root.

Even though Thang-Ta or sword and spear, an art for self defense is gaining popularity, the rich heritage of martial arts related to the ethical culture of the Meiteis has not yet found the place it rightly deserves. Chainarol (ways of fighting), an old Manipuri book gives accounts of bouts between commoners known for their courtesy and sense of honour. Fatalists as they were, they fought a duel as a way of deciding the right and the wrong by God.

Origin of Thang-Ta can be traced to creation myths of the Meiteis. During the creation Almighty, Khoiyum Yaibirel Shidaba taught his two sons how to create the Universe. The highly spiritual lesson is known as Thengou. It forms the foundation of Thang-Ta. Besides the spiritual part, Thengou may be explained as artistic manifestation of the creation of the Universe in the form of footsteps with body movements.

For learning Thengou certain initiation rituals are to be conducted at four specific places on an auspicious day fixed by a learned astrologer. The places are (i) Lalambung, (ii) Heibokching, (iii) Lamphel and (iv) Takyel.

Primary lesson to be learnt is called Lathabi Thengou. Otherwise there are nine forms of Thengou, viz. (i) Leikau Thengou, (ii) Leikal Thengou, (iii) Nongphan Thengou, (iv) Leichai Thengou, (v) Leinet Thengou, (vi) Leikhom Thengou, (vii) Leikak Thengou, (viii) Leihou Thengou and (ix) Leitai Thengou.

After adopting Hindu faith the Manipuri musicologists used to look towards Bengal in their struggle to identify the Sankirtana tradition. However with the exception of a few classical Talas other than the basic Ragas and Raginis, the Kirtans of Bengal do not throw much light on the existing forms of Manipuri Sankirtana. Bangadesh, an old form of Manipuri Sankirtana has no counterpart in Bengal. It is interesting to note that a small group called ‘Bangadesh’ flourished in Assam during Sankardeva’s time. The Biyagoa Ojapali following the classical tradition starts the Alapa of a raga with such syllables as Ha, Ri, Ta, Na. The Manipuri Isheihanba, the main singer, (counterpart of Oja) always begins with Ta, Ri, Ta, Na. The Manipuris have Dohar, principal assistant of Ishei Hanba (counterpart of Daina Pali).

During the reign of Meidingu Chingthangkhomba aka Rajarshi Bhagyachandra (1763-1798) Manipur was exposed to the performing arts of Assam, including a Bhaona called Ravana-Badha. He brought an Assamese story teller, Jivram Sharma who introduced Wari Leeba (story-telling) art in Manipur.

Assamese Ankiya Nat and Manipuri Ras Leela have grown out of the traditional movements in the respective areas but there is much affinity in the patterns between the two. The Umbrella of classical Manipuri dance covers Nata Sankirtana, Ras Leela and even Gostha Leela.

In the later part of 18th century A.D. Rajarshi Bhagyachandra introduced Ras Leela as an extension of the Nata Sankirtana tradition. Maha Ras is based on the Bhagavatam whereas Vasant Ras, played in the night on the 15th or full moon day of Sajibu/Lamda, months of Manipuri lunar calendar, falling in March-April, is based on the Geet Govindam of poet Jayadeva. Now there are five forms of Ras Leela viz. (1) Maha Ras, (2) Kunja Ras, (3) Basanta Ras, (4) Nitya Ras and (5) Diva Ras.

Ras Leela is invariably preceded by Nata Sankirtana as Lord Chaitanya is supposed to have conceived the entire Leela with himself identifying with Radha. Nata Sankirtana starts with invocation to Krishna Chaitanya. To the Manipuris, Ras Lila is embodiment of love and devotion. It is meant for spiritual awakening and not for entertainment. Naturally the dancers have to follow a strict discipline. They cannot have eye contact with the audience. Their eyes should be focused on the tips of their fingers.

In Sankirtana, mridanga or pung players, always play in pairs to give the desired acoustic effect.

In Ras Leela the whole aesthetic of drama, Bhava and Rasa are present. The dancers project and communicate the meaning of the dance through Abhinaya (histrionic representation). All the dancers have to be well adapted in Angika (physical representation through the movement of hands, fingers, lips, neck and feet), Vacika (communication through speech) though limited, Aharya (representation through costume and make-up) and Sattvika (communication through the entire psychological resources of the dancers).

Even though Manipuri classical dance forms have affinity with Natya Shastra, Bharat Muni’s ancient Indian treatise on performing arts encompassing theatre, dance and music and Abhinaya Darpana or ‘Mirror of gesture’, it is quite clear that the steps of Manipuri classical dance forms have been taken from Manipuri martial arts.

It was announced at the eighth session of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee in Baku, Azerbaijan, held from December 2 to 7, 2013 that “Sankirtana: Ritual singing, drumming and dancing of Manipur” nominated from India is among the 14 elements inscribed on the Representative List of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Theatre is another important aspect of Manipuri culture. Theatre incorporates all forms of creative art ¾ dance, music, painting, literature, etc. The rituals associated with Lai Haraoba inevitably include many episodes like ‘Tangkhul-Nurabi Loutaba’, which actually are nothing but plays. Sanjenba, Goura Lila, Kali Daman, Ras Lila, etc. are some of the religious theatrical performances of Manipur, pertaining to Vaisnavism. All forms of plays have some points in common in the sense all try to reach out to people to convey messages, thoughts and ideas.

During the reign of Maharaja Chandrakirti (1850-1886) Phagee Lila (farce) was popular. It in turn gave birth to Shumang Lila or courtyard play ― ‘Shumang’ meaning courtyard and ‘Lila’ meaning play or performance. Shumang Lila is performed by troupes of 10-15 actors either exclusively male or female. Male characters are played by female actors in Shumang Lila performed by female Shumang Lila troupes. Male actors enacting female characters in Shumang Lila performed by male Shumang Lila troupes are known as Nupishabis.

Shumang Lila is performed in an open space with the spectators sitting all around. No stage prop except a table and a chair is used. Of late, special sound effects have been incorporated in the performance. Shumang Lilas are generally meant for entertaining and making the people aware of the social values. The theme of Shumang Lila is very wide; it can be anything from folk tales to the happenings elsewhere in the world like the aftermath of the attack on the Twin Towers of World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001.

Modern Manipuri theatre performed in the proscenium theatre similar to the Western theatrical model was moulded under the enthusiastic patronage of Sir Churchand Maharaj (1891-1941) and ‘Pravas Milan’ was performed for the first time in 1902. The initial plays were adaptations from other languages. In 1925 ‘Narasingh’ the first play originally written in Manipuri was staged. After that theatre movement developed and expanded rapidly.

GC Tongbra may be said to be the Greatest Manipuri Playwright of the twentieth century. More than one hundred plays written by him have already been staged. To his credit are nearly one hundred books of plays. He himself had directed a number of plays. He was worried about the decay and loss of humanity in the society. His plays are biting satire on life.

Lokendra Arambam, H. Kanhailal and RatanThiyam are prominent personalities of modern Manipuri theatre. Each of them has a distinctive style of presentation — masters in their own rights.

Writer, Director, Designer, Composer and Choreographer, Ratan Thiyam firmly believes that plays should be based on logic and reason — it should mirror the society; it should be able to analyze the social changes and give comment on it. In other words, plays should point out the wrongs in the society and correct it by putting questions on human intellect.

Early Manipuri literature mainly consisted of verses relating to the appeasement of numerous gods and goddesses, most often sung to the accompaniment of Pena, a local bow and string musical instrument.

Many stories have also been circulating from mouth to mouth. As it is evident in the case of oral literature, there is inconsistency in the stories circulated by mouth. Many versions of the same stories are available. It is also equally true in the case of manuscripts. A copy of manuscript cannot last forever. At most Manipuri manuscripts written on homemade paper or bark can last for one or two centuries under normal circumstances. So a new copy has to be made before the older one wears out because of constant handling. Further, several copies have to be made for wider circulation by manually copying from the original. While copying, the copier may insert, delete or alter some lines at his discretion. So, there may be variations in the same story from one copy of the manuscript to another. On the other hand, it may safely be presumed that many of the stories in the manuscripts must have been circulating orally for a number of years before they were reduced to writing.

Another important point is that in the past only a selected few could read and write. Till the last part of the nineteenth century to a large extent reading, writing and production of books were done under kings’ patronage. Oral literature could permeate every section of the society whereas written texts were reserved for the privileged few.

The earliest reference to writing in Manipuri literature as recorded in Ningthouron Lambuba, a chronicle, is about a king who ascended the throne of the Ningthoujas in 984 AD.

In 1616 AD, a king of Manipur, Meidingu Khagemba (1597-1652 AD), ordered to produce more books and reading and writing to be taught on a wider scale.

Early writings in Manipuri consisted of verses relating to the appeasement of numerous gods and goddesses. Some of the earliest popular prose works in Manipuri are Numit Kappa (10th century), Khongjomnubi Nongaron (14th century), Naothingkhol Phambal Kaba (16–17th century), Leithak Leikharol (17th century) and Panthoibi Khongul (17th century). Many books on various other topics were also written before the eighteenth century but only a limited number of copies could be produced.

For convenience of examining Manipuri literature, three periods may be considered, viz, (1) Early period (pre-Hindu period extending up to the end of the 17th century), (2) Middle period (from the beginning of the 18th century up to the end of the 19th century) and (3) Modern period (from the beginning of the 20th century till date).

Most of the writings in the early period are related to the worship of Gods and Goddesses, hymns, historical events like immigration of groups of people, expeditions of kings to different places, tales of legendary lovers, etc. Heroism and bravery as well as romance and love are the noticeable traits. Unknown writers of the early period gave varied and colourful accounts of heroic lives in Chengleiron, Tutenglon, Numit Kappa, Thawanthaba Hiran, Chainarol and Nongsamei. Poireiton Khunthok another important work of the early period gives an account of the land and people through the eyes of Poireiton, the protagonist, during the course of his migration from a far off place and finally settling in Manipur.

Some of the writings produced during the middle period are devoted to specialised subjects like martial arts, identification and description of flowers, edicts of the king, etc. Narrative poetry was also prevalent. Chahui Leirong Pamba, a book written during the Middle Period, is a good example of romantic fiction. The story is set during the reign of Meetingu (Meidingu) Loiyumba (1074-1112) though the work was composed much later, during the reign of Meetingu Nara Singh (1843-49). Sanamanik is another important fiction of the middle period. It was written by Wahengbam Madhabram, a court poet of Maharaj Bhagyachandra. Set in the city of Banarasi it relates the story of six princes. The elder brothers are jealous of their youngest brother, whose wife is already in the family way.

Coming to the Modern Period, fiction ranks foremost in Manipuri literature. In the early part of the twentieth century AD, Dr. Kamal, Chaoba and Angahal wrote the first original Manipuri novels. All of them have chosen the story of lovers in different environments as the theme of their novels.

In ‘Madhabi’, a novel, Dr. Kamal shows cruelty of man, victory of love over evil and the high ideal of sacrifice.

In the novel, ‘Labanga Lata’(1940) Chaoba created characters, who lived in the seventeenth century AD, during the reign of King Khagemba.

Angahal shows the universal problem of social complexes in his novel ‘Jahera’. His is a love story of a Manipuri Hindu youth and a Muslim girl.

After the dawn of a new form of creative writing in the early twentieth century, fiction in Manipuri Literature starts blossoming. Bhagya Yengkhoiba, R.K. Shitaljit, Hijam Guno, Ibohal and many more writers followed the footsteps of Dr. Kamal, Chaoba and Angahal.

A sea change has come over after the Second World War. Many writers focused on the challenges to the traditional moral values in the post war period.

The writings of R.K. Shitaljit overflow with moral and religious ideals, romantic exuberance is absent.

Hijam Guno emphasises on the barrier between the social classes in Manipuri Society and brings out the subtle human relations clearly in his novels.

Thoibi Devi, a female writer, approaches in the traditional way without ups and downs but successfully shows the ideals of life in her writings.

Pacha Metei has earned a separate place in Manipuri literature. In his novel Imphal Amasung Magi Ishing Nungshit, the first Manipuri Novel to receive Sahitya Akademi Award in 1973, Pacha examines and explores Manipuri society from another angle, through the eyes of an outsider.

In her historical Novel, Borshaheb Ongbi Sanatombi, M.K. Binodini, another eminent female writer, meticulously paints all her characters like the images painted by a classical painter.

Some of the novelists whose works cannot be ignored are Kshetri Bira, Jodhachandra Sananam, B.M. Maisnamba, Mayanglambam Kandesh and Arambam Biren.

Manipuri novels are more or less devoted to romance, patriotism or zeitgeist. Many Manipuri novelists are equally apt in writing short stories. Short stories made appearance in the Modern Period of Manipuri Literature almost simultaneously with the novels.

In the beginning, short stories made their first appearance in journals and newspapers. The first Manipuri modern short story ever published is Ema Wa Tannaba (Discussion about Mother) written by Bob Khathing aka Major Khathing. It appeared in the October 1931 issue of Yaikairol, a monthly journal edited by N. Leiren Singh. Another short story Yum Panba (Running the Family) by Sarvajit Singh appeared in the May 1932 issue of the same journal. However, the most acclaimed short story of that time was Brojendrogi Luhongba (Brojendro’s Marriage, 1933) by L. Kamal Singh. Masik Jagaron (first published in 1924) edited by Arjun Singh in Sylhet contributed a lot to the development of Manipuri short story. Ngasi, Jyoti and Meitei Chanu, journals circulated in the forties and fifties, published short stories and played important roles in popularising short stories among the Manipuri speaking people. Lalit Manjuri Patrika another journal of the period published short stories of S. Krishnamohon Singh, A. Shyamsundar Singh, R.K. Shitaljit Singh and many other writers. Romance, problems of inter-caste marriage and class differentiation are the themes of most of the short stories of that period.

Yum Panba of Sarvajit Singh moulded Manipuri short story. In it the role of a woman in running the family is emphasized.

In Brojendrogi Luhongba L. Kamal Singh picks up an unusual theme — the protagonist, a doctor, agrees to marry a girl of his mother’s choice as an obedient son but refuses to look at her face even after the marriage.

It was only after the Second World War Manipuri short stories emerged with a renewed vigour and stole the show. R.K. Shitaljit Singh published his first collection of short stories Leikonnungda (In the Garden) in 1946 followed by another collection Leinungshi (Beloved, Fragrant Flower) in the same year.

M.K. Binodini, Nongthombam Kunjamohon, Khumanthem Prakash, ShriBiren, Hijam Guno, Elengbam Dinamani, Chitreshwor Sharma and Nilabir Shastri came in the sixties. They broke the cocoon of romance and morality. They turned towards the social reality. They picked up the changes materialism has brought to the traditional values and morality.

In the late seventies Yumlembam Ibomcha, LamabamViramani, Keisham Priyokumar, Ibohanbi and their contemporaries formed a group and gave a new thrush to short story. They collectively opine that the disappointment and helplessness felt by the common man is because of the dwindling of human rights. Similar expressions are echoed in the stories of E. Rajanikanta, R.K. Mani, Premchand and Kishorchand,

Not satisfied with the simple realistic way of presenting stories, many writers searched for new techniques of expressing their ideas and experimented with different styles of writing. With the help of allegory, dream, fantasy, symbolic representation of characters, folk elements and intellectual way of looking at the objects and happenings all around, many writers tried to give life to their short stories.

Yumlembam Ibomcha penned short stories in poetic form based on abstract ideas, without story line. In Eshing (Water) he experimented with the non-reality or symbolism of characters.

Another dimension of Manipuri short stories is comedy. Parody has kept its place marked in Manipuri short stories. Elangbam Dinamani looks at the lighter side of things and mockingly describes the social system while the readers are skilfully kept amused.

The wish of protecting their ethnic identity led to the search for the origin of the problems of exploitation, which they feel the society is facing. Such thinking is reflected in the short stories of Lanchenba Meitei, Birendrajit Naorem, Memchoubi, Athokpam Kholchandra, M. Nabakishore and many others.

The laments of the neglected and forgotten people inhabiting in the far-flung corners are heard in the writings of Keisham Priyokumar. In Khongup Boot (Heavy Boot) Keisham Priyokumar relates the turbulent life of a person, an ex-militant, who has come out in open after laying down arms to lead a normal and peaceful life. Sudhir Naoroibam, portrays the anguish of the poor and downtrodden in his short stories.

The voice against the discrimination of women in the society is very loud in the short stories of Kshtrimayum Subadani, Haobam Satyabati, Memchoubi, Bimabati Thiyam-ongbi, Binapani, Sunita and Yengkhom Indira.

Nee Devi writes stories highlighting human relations with haunting poignancy. In Ashibagi Macha Ashiba (Dead Child of the Dead) she relates the story of a woman who goes insane because of the wilful neglect by her husband whom she loves very much.

Short story has become a movement of some sort. Manipuri writers outside Manipur also bring out anthologies of short stories one after another. Among them mention may be made of A.K. Seram and Khoirom Indrajit of Bangladesh, Sanasam Vinod and N. Dhananjoy of Cachar, L. Birmangol (aka Ibomcha) of Agartala, L. Surti Kumar of Hojai and Subram of Silchar.

In Nongoubi (The Greater Coucal or Crow Pheasant; Centropus sinensis), A.K. Seram shows the haunting love of a mother for her son, not her own biological son.

In Pinda Dan, a satirical story, L. Birmangol, shows the changes that time has brought in beliefs and customary practices.

Writers try to fulfil their inherent inner urge to communicate with readers what they see, think, perceive and feel about the happenings around them. They cannot escape from the subconscious impressions made in their minds by the milieu in which they live.

Modern Manipuri Fiction is almost a century old. During the span of one hundred years, Manipuri fictions have assumed many styles and manifested in many forms.

The fictions of the pre-war period are based on romantic themes. The plots are simple. Descriptions are elaborate. The writings of that period are strongly influenced by Bengali Literature.

The post war fictions are marked with religious ideals and the challenges to the traditional moral values. The themes and story lines have changed. The forgotten and neglected people have emerged as the main characters. .

In the later stage, after the sixties, abstract ideas and symbolic characters have entered the scene. The wave of Modernism, which spread from the West has made its presence felt in Manipuri Fiction.

In the last decade of the twentieth century AD, more emphasis is given to ethnic and cultural identity, political views and observations.

In the first two decades of the twenty-first century AD, fictions have become more experimental. Writers try to venture into new territories and new style of narration. Manipuri Fiction has been able to establish a distinct identity of its own.

If the number of books published serves as any indication then poetry is the favourite form of literary expression in Manipuri. In the early part of the twentieth century Dr. Kamal, Hijam Angahal, Khwairakpam Chaoba, Arambam Dorendro and Ashangbam Meenaketan wrote romantic poems drawing heavily from folk songs. Hijam Angahal wrote an epic poem of thirty-eight thousand lines — narrative poem relating the story of legendary lovers Khamba and Thoibi.

Hijam Irabot, the socialist poet, broke the trend of romantic poetry with his use of revolutionary language and subject. Laishram Somorendra a humorist added another dimension to Manipuri poetry with his penetrating vision of the society and his use of colloquial language and biting satire. E. Nilakanta, ShriBiren, R.K. Madhubir, Sagolsem Lanchenba Meetei and Birendrajit Naorem are some of the popular poets.

Thangjam Ibopishak, Yumlembam Ibomcha and R.K. Bhubonsana wrote brilliant poems bordering on satire. Bullets turn into delicious fruits in Yumlembam Ibomcha’s ‘Story of a Dream’. In Thangjam Ibopishak’s ‘I want to be killed by an Indian bullet’ he miraculously escapes death from the hands of terrorists when he tells them of his last wish at their bidding. R.K. Bhubonsana elucidates the topsy-turvy ways of the present day society in his poem ‘Should Light be Put Out or Mind Kept in Dark’.

Among the woman poets Arambam Memchoubi, Moirangthem Borkanya and Sorokhaibam Gambhini are worth mentioning.

Sarathchand Thiyam, Raghu Leisangthem, Shahid Chaudhury, Ilabanta, Biswanath, Kalenjao, Naorem Bidyasagar and Doneshwar Konsam have also made their voices heard in the crowd of poets.

Manipuri literature provides valuable insights into the lives of the people and prevailing conditions in Manipur for analysing Manipuri society at large.




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